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Students, teachers allege racism, discrimination at La Costa Canyon High

Posted at 8:38 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 01:08:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A group of students and teachers from La Costa Canyon High School spoke publicly Wednesday morning, making some serious allegations about what they say is systemic racism, discrimination, and harassment happening at the school and within the San Dieguito Union High School District as a whole.

The following is a list of statements released by students and teachers:

Michael Island Jr. (student) “From personal experience, other students would not refrain from using racial derogatory terms towards me during class, and using ‘its just a joke’ as an excuse. When I notified them [the administration], told me I needed to speak up more about it, instead of talking to the student directly. They told me to handle it, they did nothing. I learned to ‘brush it off.”

Sydney Weaber (student): “LGBTQ+ student’s lives and rights are constantly up for debate and politicized, even in our schools. Homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, day after day, with no accountability is what makes us feel unsafe and scared to be ourselves in school.”

Izzy Enfinger (student): Students with disabilities are made to feel like that is all that defines us while all at the same time not getting the help we need. We are stared as if it’s visible and questioned constantly as if it’s hidden. We get told we are faking it or that we are being too dramatic if someone does believe us. We are called cheaters when we do get accommodations that we need and lazy if we do not get those accommodations and cannot do something.

Joy Ruppert (student): As a Chinese-American who has been trying to work collectively and collaboratively with the SDUHSD since the beginning of summer 2020 I have felt extremely exhausted, disheartened, and suppressed for a long time. Asking for simple things like repercussions to racially driven motives and more ethnic and LGBTQI+ education should not be up for debate nor should it take an entire year and protest for our voices to be heard. Other school districts have been successfully able to collaborate with the student body they serve, why can't the SDUHSD?

Lauren Monahan (teacher): “I love and worry about the mental health of all of my students, but it’s heartbreaking to watch as only some mental health concerns seem to be worthy of serious attention by the board and D.O.. Many of my BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students have disproportionately opted to stay home. After watching for years, I can see why. I’ve tried to change the culture on campus to make it safe for them, and, like others, even found and paid for my own training (or had them funded by a crowdsource campaign), but it feels like the culture is too heavy to shift without assistance from the top. We have to do better by these kids. We need to start by simply making space to listen to them, and then put our money where our mouth is and get some authentic systemic changes in place to protect all kiddos.

Among other things, the group is asking for the district to create an independent and diverse advisory committee to help make recommendations and develop new policies.

They also want to see mandatory sensitivity and competency training for administration and staff.

"Our board and our schools have a legal obligation to provide all of our students with a safe and inclusive welcoming environment and we're here cause we don't feel they're living up to that mandate," said one teacher.

A San Dieguito district spokesperson issued the following statement in response to today's news conference:

The San Dieguito Union High School District takes seriously and school site administrators investigate all reported allegations of racism, bullying, and sexual assault or harassment. The student voice is an important avenue for reporting racism, bullying, or sexual assault/harassment, and we encourage our students to work collaboratively with site administrators if there are specific incidences to investigate.
We are blessed to serve a diverse community within SDUHSD, and we strive to make sure all of our students feel safe and included on our campuses. The district is committed to making sure that equity is intersectional - race, gender, culture...for all of the "isms.
At our next scheduled Board meeting, the district has prepared a contract for approval [] to partner with the San Diego Office of Education [], to facilitate
a Continuous Improvement Equity Model with district and site staff for Spring 2021 through 2021-2022 school-year. Through this process, we look to expand and enhance our efforts to identify areas of racism and inequities within the district to continue to transform our schools into places of opportunity for our most vulnerable youth.