UPLAND, Ca. (KTLA) — Parents of students at a California elementary school are demanding answers after a series of racist drawings a sixth grader allegedly gave to a fellow Black student were discovered.
The incident at Pepper Tree Elementary School has rattled many in the Upland Unified School District.
One of the drawings states, “You’re my favorite monkey,” while another reads, “To my favorite cotton picker.”
The mother of the student who received these drawings told KTLA she has since pulled her daughter from the school after continued harassment from fellow students and, what she says, has been little action from the Upland Unified School District.
Parents Maylana and Rome Douglas have three kids attending the same school and say their daughter has been a target of the racism as well.
“They said that they were going to give her (a drawing) that specifically said, ‘You’re my favorite slave,’ and they were going to show her as a slave hanging from a tree,” Maylana Douglas told KTLA.
The concerned parents also say a group of girls claimed they’d give their daughter back rubs and massages because it’s Black History Month.
“It’s your month, you’re entitled to back rubs,” Rome Douglas said the girls told his daughter. “And apparently, someone told her, ‘Well, maybe only half the month because you’re only half Black.”
It’s not the first time students in Upland have experienced racism. At this time last year, a teacher was placed on leave after making anti-Asian comments during Lunar New Year celebrations at another school in the same district.
Two weeks after the most recent incident happened, the principal of Pepper Tree Elementary sent a letter to parents about the drawings. A day after that, district officials uploaded a video to YouTube.
“I want to make it perfectly clear that we have a strict zero-tolerance policy on any type of hate speech, harassment,’ Upland USD Board President Sherman Garnett said in the video.
The school’s PTA president, Robin Allen, told KTLA that families are demanding answers.
“I’m hoping that the district does not brush this under the rug as they’ve brushed issues under the rug in the past,” she said. “We want to know what zero-tolerance means. This is not the first time a situation like this has happened. It’s not going to be the last time that this situation happens, but the most important thing is our response to the situation.”
Officials with the school district provided KTLA with a statement that reads in part:
“An investigation took place immediately upon learning about these disgusting, racist drawings students gave to another child in their class … The content in those cards is shocking and abhorrent. We deeply regret that our student has had to endure the hurt that race based bullying causes.”
When asked whether the student who created the drawings will be disciplined, the district said that privacy laws do not allow them to share that information.
Some parents told KTLA that they plan to be at Tuesday board meeting to bring the issue up to board members.