Students respond after racist graffiti found in Monte Vista High School bathroom in Danville

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DANVILLE (BCN) — The mother of an African American teen who discovered racist graffiti in his Danville high school’s bathroom Wednesday says she’s worried about her children’s safety and well-being.

The student and some friends discovered the graffiti in one of Monte Vista High School’s bathrooms and immediately informed staff.

The bathroom was closed to students, the graffiti was cleaned up and Danville police and school administrators started an investigation to find the person or people responsible, San Ramon Valley Unified School
District spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said.

The incident, however, has left LaLene Shepherd shaken and worried.

Shepherd’s son, who found the graffiti, and her daughter both attend the school and have been in the district since they were both 5 years old.

“You don’t want your kids in an environment like this,” Shepherd said. “It’s very worrisome.”

She said she and her family talked about the incident Wednesday after school.

“As the evening progressed, it became more and more worrisome,” Shepherd said. “I know that my kids are going to have to return to this place today.”

And the students have responded to the racist graffiti. They wrote messages, on post-it notes, of love and unity in response–and then made a wall with them.

The school’s principal Kevin Ahern sent out an email Thursday morning informing parents about the incident and asking for anyone with information to come forward.

Faculty and students have been working hard to ensure that the school environment is inclusive but “there is still a long way to go to build a campus culture that is safe and supporting for all its students,” the email
said.

Also, the entire school faculty and all 2,400 students started the day at an assembly where teachers talked about their personal experiences with discrimination and 100 students got up to speak as well, according to Graswich.

“This is a difficult conversation to have but I think the school is doing a great job,” Graswich said. “I hope we can learn from this incident and create an environment where students can talk about these kinds of things and feel safe.”

Just 24 African American students, or about 1 percent of the total student population, attend Monte Vista.

Shepard says she’s hopeful that the district and school are taking the necessary steps to find whoever wrote the graffiti and to prevent future incidents.

“We’ll see what happens from this,” Shepherd said. “You hope for the best.”

This is the third recent incident of racist graffiti found at one of the district’s schools.

In late October, similar slurs were found scrawled on the bathroom walls in two separate incidents at California High School in San Ramon.

Graswich said the district is in the middle of a “powerful conversation about where we go as a district involving possible things related to professional development and curriculum for kids and communication with the parents.”

“This is an ongoing conversation that has some strong momentum behind it,” Graswich said.

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