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Another threat targeting African-Americans found at Chesapeake High

Rachael Pacella
Contact Reporterrpacella@capgaznews.com

A threat with a racial slur targeting African-American students was found Thursday written on the wall of a boys bathroom at Chesapeake High School, Principal Stephen Gorski told parents in a letter.

It is the latest in a series of racially charged incidents at the Pasadena school. The most recent was Monday when a threatening and racist message targeting African-Americans was found written on a mouse pad at the school.

After two days with no incidents and a show of support from the community Monday morning, Gorski said he thought the school was beginning a new chapter.

“Sadly, I was wrong,” he said in the letter.

The school and police are investigating.

Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said next week a new full-time community ambassador will begin working at Chesapeake. They are also in the process of hiring a new student advocate.

“#ChesapeakeUnited cannot be a slogan that stands for a few days and fades into the woodwork,” he wrote. “It must mean something to each of us. I implore you to continue to help us in that effort.”

The Caucus of African American Leaders approved a resolution Tuesday night, co-signed by the county’s NAACP branch, asking the school system to proactively address racism in county schools.

That resolution mentioned a 2011 complaint from the NAACP alleging bias in discipline practices at county schools. The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights also launched an investigation in 2012 — and is still investigating, according to its website.

“We certainly recognize the gap and certainly are continuing to do everything we can to attack it,” Mosier said.

And they are factoring in incidents like the ones that have occurred at Chesapeake in recent weeks while tackling it, as well as racial incidents in the community at-large.

There has been significant discussion recently among senior staff and principals about how to best recognize and understand the impact of stress caused by race-related incidents, Mosier said, and they also need to understand how that stress is manifesting itself.

It can be difficult for an adult to understand that stress, and how it manifests itself, if the adult hasn’t had those same experiences. That is a part of the cultural competency training they do with staff at schools across the system, he said.

According to a state count from October 2017, 6.6 percent of teachers in Anne Arundel County Public Schools are African-American.

African-American students make up about 20.6 percent of the student population for county public schools. White students make up 55.4 percent, Asian students 2.8 percent, Hispanic students 13.7 percent and students of more than one race 6.1 percent.

At Chesapeake High School, African-American students make up less than 5 percent of the population. White students make up about 86.1 percent of the student body, Asian students about 1.7 percent, Hispanic students about 3.8 percent and students of more than one race 3.2 percent.

State figures show African-American students accounted for more than 50 percent of expulsions and in-school and out-of-school suspensions in the 2016-17 school year, despite only being about 20 percent of the population.

African-American students made up nearly 35 percent of expulsions and suspensions at Chesapeake High in the 2016-2017 school year, despite being less than 5 percent of the population.

In a column submitted to The Capital on Friday, Superintendent George Arlotto wrote in broad strokes about changing mindsets on acceptance and inclusion, without mentioning either Chesapeake or Southern high schools, where a threat with a racial slur also was found Monday.

Schools are a reflection of society, he said in the column, and they’re not immune from outside influences. Students spend about 19 percent of their time in school, he said, and 81 percent at home or in the community.

“So, when national, statewide and local conversations and actions contain hate-filled rhetoric, we should not be surprised that students mimic those same thought and behavior patterns,” he wrote.

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