Sacramento, CA

Community activists and students show support to West Campus vice principal

Robert J Hansen

Vice principal Elysse Versher has experienced racial hatred for years while at West Campus
Berry Accius (left) Lorreen Pryor (center) and Rashid Sidqe (right) at West Campus High School in Sacramento on November 16, 2021.(Photo by Robert J Hansen)

Sacramento, Calif - by Robert J Hansen

Supporters of West Campus High School Vice Principal Elysse Versher demanded action be taken against the students and Principal John McKeekin for the hateful and racist incidents she has experienced at the school.

Versher has as called Black Hitler, Black B**** and had N**** written on a wall near her parking spot at the school leading to an investigation underway by the Sacramento Police Department.

Community activist Rashid Sidqe said they want to see this situation rectified and those responsible held accountable.

“We will be here in support and until this thing is rectified,” Sidqe said. “I am glad to see our superintendent here but we need to see you make changes. It didn’t have to come to this. Her tires were slashed two years ago.”

Sidqe said this is not the only instance of African American administrators being pushed out and in some cases fired from Sacramento City Unified School District because of a racist culture within the district.

“We’re here to fight for African American administrators, we need more African American administrators to be hired, we need more African American teachers, and we

Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said there is no place for racism in the school district and that what happened meets the threshold of a hate crime.

“This is an abhorrent act and we are going to use every resource at our disposal to make sure there’s accountability,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar said the district instituted professional racial development training but that professional development alone would not resolve this problem and ones like it.

“We have to understand that this is a community issue,” Aguilar said. “This is not just a school district problem but a problem throughout the entire city.”

Youth leader Berry Accius said what happened at West Campus is a copycat of a Kit Carson Academy incident that happened in June.

Spanish teacher Katherine Sanders shocked her class when she said the N-word twice and was briefly suspended but still works at the school.

“Here we have a copycat, the N-word coming again. Now, if you don’t see the problem, the pros right there,” Accius said.

Accius called out Principal McKeekin who did not join the group but watched from across the street.

“Where is your lead principal right now? Is he standing with us or is he over there?” Accius said.

Accius and others said this cannot be tolerated and these systems that oppress minorities and LGBTQ people need to be challenged.

“These are oppressive systems that look like school systems that are here to oppress our children,” Accius said. “This is no longer going to be, ‘We are investigating.’ This is going to be, we are doing something about it.”

A student asked the superintendent if administrators who make these investigations are vetted for racist behavior before they are hired to make sure there are no biases that compromise the investigations.

“What would you do in the future to make sure that their biases do not make it into our schools,” the student asked.

The superintendent said the district mustn't be leading the investigation in acts like these.

“This is an investigation that will be done independently so that all of those facts are considered and an unbiased finding of those facts are brought forward,” Aguilar said.

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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