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District officials investigating hate speech found at San Dieguito Academy

san dieguito academy vandalism suspect.jpg
Posted at 1:11 PM, Jan 03, 2022

ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) – School officials are working to identify the person responsible for spraying hateful graffiti messages at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas over the New Year's holiday weekend.

It's the third incident for the San Dieguito Union High School District in the last three months and the second for the school itself in that time.

Superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward said Monday that this incident happened Saturday morning just before 4 a.m. She said a young person came onto the campus at SDA to spray paint racist and homophobic slurs across several school buildings.

It has since been painted over.

Dr. Ward said all of the acts were caught on security cameras, so they're working to identify the teen with Sheriff's Department. She said they suspect it may have been a student, but the person hasn't been identified yet.

SDSO said in a release that deputies are searching for a suspect described as an unknown race man, thin, and last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, dark jeans, and dark shoes.

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The department said the vandalism caused nearly $725 in damage.

Ward, along with leadership from the district and the San Diego County Board of Education, says they completely condemn his actions. She acknowledged that SDUHSD has a variety of issues like all districts, and they're seeing more incidents of concern as students return to school.

Ward talked about built-up trauma and mental health concerns during the pandemic.

The district is doing its own investigation and working with law enforcement. According to district guidelines, if the person responsible is a student, a hate incident means expulsion would be required punishment.

Expulsion would turn the student over to the County Board of Education, which would also be able to provide more extensive mental health resources.

Dr. Ward also outlined some of the existing SDUHSD diversity, equity and inclusion practices as well as new initiatives implemented since she came to lead the district two months ago.

Anyone with information is asked to call SDSO at 760-966-3504 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 888-580-8477.