Analy High School students accused of racist insults and threats
A Santa Rosa couple says their mixed-race son was subjected to racist insults and threats over two years at Analy High School and that when they reported it to school officials in August, none of the alleged perpetrators was punished.
They say the school’s inaction allows and encourages a hostile, threatening learning environment, and they are hoping to force change by speaking out about it now.
The district superintendent denies the Sebastopol high school has a race problem and said students often police themselves when they see peers acting inappropriately. Analy has 1,300 pupils, 75 percent of whom are white and 5 percent of whom are black or biracial.
The boy, Evan Mack, spent a month at the beginning of this school year on independent study after his parents formally complained to the district. He didn’t feel safe at school after being called racist names and otherwise racially harassed in class, at football practice and on social media, said his mother, Raquel Mack.
Mack has since transferred to another school and is succeeding academically and is much happier, she said.
But his mother said that’s not enough. She and her husband, John, are not satisfied with what she calls a perfunctory and incomplete investigation by the school.
School officials did not question several involved students and staff members, and the investigation only touched on two of numerous incidents the Macks reported, according to a copy of the findings provided by the Macks.
“What does it say when you go to an institution like a school that is supposed to be a safe place, and they don’t do anything to help, and, in fact, make it more difficult on your child?” she said.
“People need to know. There will be other black kids who go through the school system there. I don’t want them to go through this.”
West Sonoma County Union High School District Superintendent Steven Kellner said he couldn’t speak directly about the incidents because of student privacy rights. He maintains Analy and the other west county campuses have “a positive school culture.”
The school trains a handful of students each year as “safe school ambassadors” who “intervene directly with students when they see conflict arise, whether it’s physical or virtual,” Kellner said. Or they can enlist the help of an adult if it rises to a higher level, he said.
While race-based incidents don’t appear to be rampant in Sonoma County, they do crop up occasionally, according to school officials. At least twice in recent years in Sonoma County — including in 2009 at Analy — students have performed sketches meant to be funny but that were perceived as racially insensitive.
Nationally, harassment, bullying and similar behavior have forced school districts to face racism and sexual harassment issues that include name-calling, as well as threatening comments in person and through social media.
Several youths have committed suicide after being incessantly harassed and some states have passed laws making cyberbullying illegal, while some have prosecuted such behavior under existing laws.
The Mack family said Analy’s safeguards and supervision repeatedly failed her son during a period from the beginning of the 2013-14 school year through this past summer, when Evan was the subject of racist insults and threats on social media just before school began.