SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento City Unified School District is investigating after someone wrote a racial slur above a water fountain on the campus of C.K. McClatchy High School on Friday.
The photo shows two wall-mounted water fountains next to each other. Someone wrote “white” above the water fountain designed as a bottle filler and “colored” above the standard drinking fountain.
Students, along with community activist Berry Accius posted photos of the racist incident on Facebook to raise awareness throughout the Greater Sacramento region, especially during Black History Month.
According to SCUSD Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar, the district will provide all necessary support services for students and staff who are experiencing trauma as a result of the racist incident.
“I am both angry and heartsick that racist graffiti was discovered on the C. K. McClatchy campus," Aguilar said in a statement. "We take this incident very seriously. Racism and racist language will not be tolerated in our schools. The graffiti was immediately removed once it was discovered by school site staff."
The school district says it is working with the Sacramento Police Department to find the person or persons responsible and plan on taking the "appropriate action" in response to the hate incident.
"Our district is committed to confronting racial prejudice," Aguilar said a statement. "This offensive incident serves as another reminder that we need to have a reckoning on race at all levels in SCUSD and beyond. We will not be deterred in working to address racial prejudice and ensure that the culture and climate at our district and each of our schools is inclusive, supportive, culturally competent, and equitable for all students, staff and families.”
SCUSD is working to address other racist incidents that happened at several other school sites, too.
In November 2021, West Campus High School assistant principal Dr. Elysse Versher says she found the "N-word" spray-painted five times on a wall, near her assigned parking spot on campus. Dr. Versher says she also experienced racism and harassment on social media in response to enforcing the school's dress code.
The Sacramento Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime. SPD, along with SCUSD, is still working to find the person or persons responsible for the crime. Meanwhile, the school district is providing support to students and staff to help them heal from the traumatic event, including meeting groups, healing circles, and a school-wide assembly.
In another case, SCUSD recently suspended, with plans to terminate, a middle school Spanish teacher who used the "N-word" in a class with 7th graders during a lecture. The incident happed at Kit Carson International Academy in June 2021.
In an announcement made last month, SCUSD hired Mark T. Harris, an attorney and long-time Sacramento community member with extensive expertise in social justice and civil rights matters, to advise the district on addressing racist incidents that are currently under investigation, and to support the district’s efforts to address racism and improve equity and inclusion for all.
“The Sacramento City Unified School District community of stakeholders, which includes administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students, are entitled to be kept abreast of ongoing efforts to identify and eradicate instances of racism and discriminatory conduct from throughout the entire district,” said Mark T. Harris. “The first step on any journey towards accountability is transparency. Fundamentally, my role with the Sacramento City Unified School District is to enhance confidence in the collective ongoing investigations of allegations of racist conduct and to bring to the District innovative methods to prevent future occurrences of inappropriate conduct.”
Sacramento City Unified School District has more than 40,000 students on 75 campuses. The district-wide student population is 40% Hispanic or Latino, 17% Asian, 14% African American, and 18% white. About 7% of students are of two or more races or ethnicities.
The SCUSD Board of Education, along with Superintendent Aguilar, have led efforts to adopt and implement equity-focused policies and practices district-wide. District leaders have also provided a number of initiatives to confront racism, improve equity, and make schools more inclusive and supportive for all students.
In response to the latest racist incident that happened at C.K. McClatchy High School, the SCUSD Board of Education released the following statement, in full, reading:
“There is no room for hate at Sac City Unified,” said Sac City Unified School Board Member Lisa Murawksi. “This racist graffiti is not a joke, it is not excusable, and it will not be tolerated. It is most insulting to our Black and African American students and community members but It degrades and insults our entire community and sends waves of harm, trauma, and disgust throughout the halls of C.K. McClatchy that should instead be full of laughter, learning, and connection. Whoever did this should be ashamed and should face consequences and disciplinary action to the fullest extent of law and policy.”
“We care deeply about the well-being of our students and staff who may have been impacted by this racist act,” Board President Pritchett added. “We are glad that the district is providing support for students and staff to help them deal with the trauma of experiencing racism at school.”
(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include more background and new comments from the school district.)
WATCH MORE ON ABC10: Social justice attorney Mark Harris hired by Sacramento City Unified School District to prevent future racist incidents on campus: