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Racial slurs and attacks plague Santa Barbara Unified School District’s return to in-person learning

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Sunday evening Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) superintendent, Hilda Maldonado, sent out a disturbing memo to the district. In it, she told parents, students and facility members about twelve race-related incidents at seven schools.

“On our campuses, ranging from hate violence to racially charged language,” wrote Maldonado. “I am committed to reporting the number of incidents district-wide on a regular basis, much like our COVID dashboard.”

Maldonado confirmed Monday that most of the incidents happened on middle school campuses directed towards black students. There was even an incident towards a black teacher on a high school campus. 

In January SBUSD uploaded a SafeToSpeakUp app on every student’s iPad to help them report racist attacks, cyber-bullying or any other bullying. 

Maldonado said the district is taking multiple steps to end this trend. They will have staff meetings to help facility members be better advocated or “upstander” for the victims. This month there will be campus-wide presentations about how to find a “safe adult” and use the Safe2SPeakUp app. The district is also setting up town halls for parents to voice their opinions. And the district is also working with other nonprofits that help with kids in the community.

This problem has been going on for generations. Maldonado said she has parents telling her they saw it when they were in the district and now their kids in the district. Maldonado said it needs to stop.

“This normalization of dehumanizing the other and that is not something we want to be known for as a school district," she said.

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.


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