C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento has been surrounded by controversy after photos of a science project tying race to IQ spread throughout town.
The science project proposed a theory that a student's IQ was correlated to his or her race, specifically questioning whether black, Latino, and Southeast Asian students could handle the academic challenges of the school's Humanities and International Relations (HISP) program.
On the school program's website, the HISP program is described as "a rigorous honors program" that offers "a unique global perspective on learning and understanding."
Samuel Lopez is a senior has been in the program all four years. As part Hispanic, he describes the program as very "culturally aware."
"I love the program and the teachers are so welcoming," said Lopez. "Being colorblind is a very important aspect."
But last week, he too was surprised by a fellow classmate's science project.
"A lot of kids are shocked it was even allowed to be put up," said Lopez.
The project proposed that a lower IQ could be the reason there were less black, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian students in the HISP program compared with white and northeast Asian students.
Parents in the district are also questioning the project. Renee Webster-Hawkins and Angel Garcia both have black, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian kids in Sac Unified schools. They are volunteers for the school board's community advisory committee, specifically working with special needs students.
"Where is the teacher as the advisor?" wondered Webster-Hawkins. "Providing those teachable moments at a minimum but also prohibiting something so harmful...from going on display."
On Thursday, the school principal sent out the following message to parents:
Hi, this is Peter Lambert, Principal at McClatchy High School.
I am calling you to address an incident that occurred on our
campus this week involving a science project which made racially insensitive suggestions about African American, Latino and Southeast Asian students and their admission rates into our HISP program.
This issue was brought to my attention after many students and staff approached me with their concerns.
I want to be clear that at McClatchy High School we promote and embrace an inclusive environment and way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination.
Many of you have asked me what our school is doing in response to this incident. I want you to know we are taking this incident very seriously and we will be reviewing the incident and implementing all measures as appropriate to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students.
As always, I appreciate your involvement in the McClatchy school community.
Superintendent Aguilar said the district would be conducting a thorough interview of whether or not proper instructional protocols were followed. He added they would also be reviewing all specialty programs in the district, like HISP.
Parents like Garcia and Webster-Hawkins are eager to see how the district follows up on its promises.
"[The science project] promotes the idea that something is wrong with the student, aside from that, there's real systemic issues within the educational system and Sac City," said Garcia. "The damage of a project like this is extensive."