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‘I hear the n-word every day:’ Greendale students speak about racism at school board meeting

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GREENDALE -- A number of people spoke at a Greendale Schools Board of Education meeting Monday evening, April 8, saying they have had to deal with issues of racism and prejudice.

The effort was organized by P.A.G.E. -- Parents Advocating for Greendale Equity -- "created to address an ongoing problem."

A news release from that organization read as follows:

"Greendale, like many other suburbs of our deeply divided metro area, has a racism problem.

As parents of Greendale students and as a diverse group of Greendale residents, we have been deeply concerned not only by the recent spate of racist incidents in Greendale schools, but even more so by the District’s persistent mishandling of these incidents and its failure to listen to the voices of those affected. Despite our ongoing efforts to advise the Greendale School District of the urgency of addressing the issue of racism in the schools, the
attitude of the District administration towards calls for a stronger response has been dismissive and even hostile.

Greendale’s schools are rightfully the pride of our small community. Indeed, many of us chose to live in Greendale primarily for the schools. Their stellar academic standing and their successes in athletics, performing arts, and other extracurricular activities connect us to one another even more strongly than in most other communities. But if some students are excluded by a hostile and unsafe environment in the schools - whether based on race or anything else - the school administration must urgently work to repair that environment in meaningful and enduring ways. Sadly, the District administration’s efforts so far appear to have been minimal, more aimed at PR and damage control in individual cases, than at true systemic reform that would lead to a better climate.

As our community becomes more like the diverse world outside the “Greendale bubble,” we owe it to all of our students to prepare them to live and work in a world that respects and values everyone for who they are.

We call on Greendale School District, and on all Greendale community members, to join P.A.G.E. in working to combat racism effectively and to create a fairer, more diverse, and more inclusive Greendale, beginning with our schools."

There have been protests at Greendale High School over the last year -- demonstrations against what students described as a hateful environment.

"I hear the n-word every single day, and I'm tired of going to report it, because nothing will be done. I don't know what else I have to do to get you to get it together. That's all I have to say," a student said at Monday's meeting.

School board members heard the concerns and said they would be conducting more meetings to figure out how to move forward.

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