Upland, CA

Families Outraged at Alleged Racial Bullying in California Elementary School

Debra Blackwell

Pepper Tree Elementary in Upland, CAPhoto byGoogle Images

Bullying of any kind in a school has a zero tolerance policy. However, Racial Bullying is alleged in one California elementary school. The drawings and remarks students claim to have received are absurd and unexplainably disturbing. Parents are outraged, as are the community and people throughout our country, as very young children allegedly displayed a racist mindset in a world where people may say, "racism no longer exists." However, what was presented at a press conference yesterday, in Upland, CA, speaks differently.

Pepper Tree Elementary school, as with every school is mandated to have anti-bullying laws in place; however, with the alleged racist-bullying students experienced, parents are taking legal action. Facing claims and damages for the school's alleged lack of action against heinous racist incidents, anger amongst families impacted prevails.

In a press conference Monday, February 27, four families shared a series of alleged racist incidents, one claim being a student received drawings stating "To my favorite cotton picker" and "You’re my favorite monkey." The young girl, Chloe, sadly said, "I didn't know that they thought of me that way. So it made me feel less than a person." Words and feelings no child should ever have to experience. A mother had to research and explain a racial slur to her 11-year-old son after he allegedly received a card that said "Golden N- - r Pass" from another student. The mother was unfamiliar with the slur, as the two are from Ethiopia.

Another young student, London, the only Black girl in her class, said she was forced to be an enslaved person in an American Revolution skit. At the same time, several students repeatedly called her brother Rome " monkey," which it is alleged the teacher never addressed.

However, angered parents voiced at a school district meeting that the drawings and experiences were not the first time the school failed to address racial bullying. Unfortunately, the pictures Marlene Reynoso says her daughter had received featured monkeys, cotton balls floating through the sky, and an enslaved person. These got the media's attention, and the school addressed the situation. However, it took two weeks for the girl's mother to become further upset with the school before any letter was sent to parents regarding drawings, according to the mother. Also stating she was both appalled and disgusted by the images she reported, and the lack of response to the incident.

Several parents began to cite alleged incidents where nothing was done about the racial bullying within the school district, including Christopher Newman, regarding his son's experience in class where his son says a girl kept calling him a monkey and asking if he wanted to see a picture of himself, showing him a picture of a monkey. Newman stated "It's not just something that just kids will be kids," "The image of a monkey is a particular image that has been used over hundreds of years to dehumanize Black people, to make them seem like they're inferior and to make Black people feel like they don't belong in certain environments and an educational setting is one where we can't have that happen."

Attorneys at The Cochran Firm in Los Angeles represent the families in filed claims for damages against the school district. They say, "the district collectively failed to end racial bullying and harassment the children had reported."

Lead attorney James Bryant states, "Children are not born to hate; it is taught in the home. But when administrators and teachers—their children are perpetuating this—how can you change a broken system? If Upland School District didn't think it would be a problem then, it will be a massive problem now."

Bullying of any kind causes children and adolescents to suffer anxiety, severe depression, inflict self-harm, and in some cases, lead to suicide. Please report all bullying and follow up with the school to ensure the staff is adequately taught how to address these cases and that the incidents are being handled. Although it is under heart-breaking, appalling circumstances, we applaud these parents for persevering until the alleged issue was brought to light in a public arena. Hopefully, their actions will help to prevent potential racism in our schools.

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Debra Blackwell has been writing content for over 20 years. Breaking news, news that impacts our country, such as social injustice, operations that impact incarcerated individuals, homelessness, and relevant local news her most passionate interests.

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