WENTZVILLE, Mo. – The NAACP of St. Charles County and several parents have voiced concerns of racism and the treatment of minority students in the school district.
The NAACP cites “the protection and wellbeing of our minority students within St. Charles Co. school districts” as a major concern. The organization also says one family in the school district allegedly “expressed outrage over their child being called racial slurs.”
The NAACP brought forth this call of action last week to the St. Charles County community ahead of a school board meeting last Thursday: “We are asking all who can to come out and stand with us as we demand better and stand with this family in the fight for fair and equitable treatment.”
The school board meeting lasted more than four hours and gave many parents an opportunity to voice concerns.
Among those who spoke, Tamara King says she sent several emails and calls to the board about “issues plaguing [her] niece,” though she says her inquiries oftentimes get ignored.
“You say that you don’t understand how our Black kids are not performing at the same level,” said King. “How do you expect them to when they’re constantly being assaulted, when they’re constantly receiving verbal threats, or when they’re constantly being ignored? How do you expect them to come to school and learn and perform at a higher level as compared to other kids who are constantly protected?”
Katrina Scott-Butler, who also spoke Thursday, says her daughter formerly attended a high school in the district, but no longer does because her “sense of safety and protection became so diminished.” She says her daughter had reported 10 instances of harassment and bullying to multiple school administrators and that three other minority students “have experienced similar ordeals.”
“It was only when administrators and teachers themselves were physically impacted that more rigorous disciplinary action was finally permitted,” she added. It is evident the school’s short-term zero-tolerance approach to bullying has not effectively mitigated bullying issues, which appear to persist and even increase.”
Another speaker also described an instance of a student being called a racial slur on a bus.
Zebrina Looney, president of the St. Charles County branch of the NAACP, tells FOX 2 that she has had many calls from parents about racism within the Wentzville School District in recent weeks.
Looney adds, “Across the board, in the Wentzville School District, minority students rank the lowest. There is a direct correlation between that environment and their safety in that environment of them being able to retain what they need to retain.”
Following Thursday’s meeting and the NAACP’s call-to-action, the Wentzville School District has shared this statement to FOX 2:
“The Wentzville School District is saddened by these concerns. We are committed to addressing them head-on and working toward solutions collaboratively with our community to move our District forward. Through our current strategic planning process and conversations with District families, it has become evident that diversity, equity, and inclusion are areas that require our focus.
To start, we’re creating student leadership opportunities to help establish avenues where students feel safe sharing their diverse experiences with district leadership.
Furthermore, the WSD Board of Education and administration will review the Code of Conduct with the goal of strengthening its zero-tolerance policy and appropriate consequences regarding racial discrimination and hate speech.
The WSD welcomes discussion around this topic and is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination and harassment.”
Looney says she plans to reach out to the Wentzville superintendent next week for a conversation on when to expect and how the NAACP of St. Charles County might be able to assist.