Rochester Hills Parents Alarmed About Pupils Being Called N-Word in School


Khary Mason, a native Detroiter, five years ago moved his family from the city to Rochester Hills, where public schools are highly regarded. 

But Mason and some other African American parents are concerned about their middle school children being exposed to racist comments from fellow students, including being called the n-word.

He and other parents plan to visit the school Friday to address their concerns, Mason tells Deadline Detroit. "I would like to meet with school administrators to discuss why these incidents continue to happen," Mason says.

Mason, whose 13-year-old son attends West Middle School, posts on Facebook on Wednesday night:

I came home from work today, and my son told me he was with 2 of his friends (they are all children of color). They were on a bus enroute to Rochester College for a field trip, when a kid in the back row says ..."Nigger"... the words before it and the next couple of words after were, unintelligible.

My son responds “NO, don’t say that”.

The kid says something else that my son didn’t understand, then the kid continued to recite a joke: "How do black people get exercise. They run from the cops.".

To add insult to injury, this is not the first time something like this has happened this year. One of the other children with my son was called ...Nigger...earlier in the school year.

So I ask you, is this a problem with an individual, the culture of the school or something greater?

My son went to the principal and the band teacher to explain the problem. Stay tuned.

If this bothers you, give the school a jingle. If it doesn’t, you are part of the problem...

You don’t have to like the post, but if you agree...SHARE!!!

Mason says he has not been contacted by the school about the incident. 

District Responds

Deadline Detroit called the school for comment early Thursday afternoon. The reporter was told the principal had left for the day. A voicemail message was then left with the assistant principal for comment.

A call to Superintendent Robert Shaner was rerouted to Lori Grein, community relations director of Rochester Community Schools. Grein responds to a detailed voice message and email with the statement: 

The actions that you described in this incident are not representative of the values of our school community. Please be assured that as soon as a school administrator learns of disrespectful or offensive behavior, the situation is thoroughly investigated and those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Our Student Code of Conduct sets forth the rules and regulations that govern a student’s involvement within our school district, and those rules are strictly enforced. 

For situations like the one described . . . the school takes strict and immediate action. All members of our community have the right to be safe, valued and respected.

More Racist Incidents

Another resident, Columbus Ward, says his African American daughter was on the bus the other day with Mason's son when the white student yelled out the n-word.

He says it was third time in the past year or so that she's encountered such racist attacks. He said at the end of the last school year, a student was "spamming" his daughter on social media, repeatedly using the n-word. 

He said the school said it couldn't do anything because it was not during school hours. So, Ward said he notified police, who visited the student at home. He said police told him the student apologized. But he says the boy never told his daughter he was sorry.

Early this school year, Ward says the same student, along with some others, started calling his daughter the n-word while she was around her locker. Ward said he visited the school to complain to the vice principal , who made the children apologize to his daughter. But he said the main instigator, the boy who was spamming her in the last school year, was not in school that day and never end up apologizing.

He says on the bus the other day, a student started yelling the n-word at his daughter and her friends, and the black bus driver. He says his daughter told him the driver stopped the the bus and confronted the student.

Ward says he has heard that the student was suspended. 

"She feels horrible because she wasn’t raised that way," he said of his daughter's response to the racist attacks.

'There Should Be Zero Tolerance'

Ward says administrators "say all the right things in front of me, but nothing has happened. No one has been expelled. I want an example made. I want everyone to basically learn from this. There should be zero tolerance."

Mason says he'd like the school district to offer counseling for first offenders, and expel students the second time for racism or other offensive behavior like bullying and sexual harassment. He said the parents should also be required to play a role in helping correct the behavior. 

"When we're adults, you cannot hurl a racial slur at a colleague without being fired," he said."We are teaching these children to be adults" 

Grein, the community relations director, also writes in her statement to Deadline Detroit:

At Rochester Community Schools, we are committed to providing a warm, caring and supportive environment, where all members feel safe, valued and respected. As such, we work to create a climate that prohibits acts of harassment or bullying, and eliminates prejudice and discrimination.

We abide by a respect code and stand firm in our beliefs that:

  • All individuals are entitled to a physically, emotionally and intellectually safe learning and work environment. It is our responsibility to address discriminatory statements and actions.
  • All individuals are entitled to be valued. Various customs, lifestyles, and backgrounds contribute to an enriched learning environment.
  • All individuals are entitled to be treated equitably. Education increases awareness and understanding and promotes human dignity.
  • Although the staff at West Middle School reviewed the RCS respect code with their students in mid-September, we are continuing to encourage parents to engage in a discussion with their children as a family. We also encourage the parent with whom you spoke to talk with the Principal. We truly believe that, together, we can continue to create a strong culture and climate that embraces diversity and ensures the well-being of all of our students.

Update: A Fox 2 News reporter tweets this reaction to our article:

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