Students walk out of Ignacio High School to call out racism – The Durango Herald

The supervisor says the protest is an opportunity to “learn a few things, and move forward in a good way”

Isabella Lee Masters, left, and Alexis Ortiz, far right, participated in the Ignacio High School strike on Friday to protest racism. They said they were fired from their Senate positions for high school students because they chose to participate in the strike. (Christian Burnie/Durango Herald)

IGNACIO – About 21 students left Ignacio High School Friday afternoon in protest at what they see as a lack of action by school officials in dealing with racist and discriminatory behavior directed by some white students towards students of color.

Students gathered along the side of the road on Browning Street and Baker Street, a block from the high school. Students waved signs that read “Don’t Silence Our Voices, Hear Us,” “IHS Doesn’t Stand With Racism,” “Open Your Eyes” and “Honk if you hate racism.”

The drivers would sizzle often, and the students responded with cheers, applause, and thanks.

Students at the protest said there is a contrast between punishments for white students versus students of color who get into fights over racial slurs, with white students essentially receiving a “slap on the wrist” while students of color are temporarily suspended.

The withdrawal gives the administration pause, said Christopher Decay, director of the Ignacio School District. “You will learn a few things, and move forward in a good way,” Friday said during an interview with management. Durango Herald.

“The kids, they have concerns about equality and racism, so they planned a peaceful demonstration, a withdrawal,” Dickey said. “Before they came out, we tried — we had a town hall where we could talk about things and things we could do better and ways to move things forward. They do something in a peaceful way. On some level, we have to pay attention and we need to be proactive about what we are doing. with it “.

New student Elena Manuelito said the incident that sparked the protest included a brawl that broke out between two students earlier this month.

Manuelito said that one of the students used insults against another student, which led to a fight. Manuelito said the student who used the insults “received nothing but a slap on the wrist.” But the other student, she was suspended from work for three days, she said.

Jeremy LeMasters, a father of four and still his youngest of three in the school district, said there have been multiple fights this month over racial insults directed at students of color.

Isabella Lee Masters, a student at Ignacio High School, said she was removed from the student senate because she chose to participate in the strike, which she helped organize with Alexis Ortiz, another freshman.

She said Ortiz was removed from the Senate.

Before the strike, Isabella LeMasters said the high school hosted a gathering to bring “both sides” together to discuss students’ concerns about unaddressed racism.

Ignacio High School students went on strike Friday to protest what they see as high school racism with some students calling the students racially colored slurs. (Christian Burnie/Durango Herald)

Isabella LeMasters, who is black, said she’s called the N-word on a daily basis. She said a female student in her Spanish class calls her an N every day, right in front of the teacher, and the student is never asked to stop and no disciplinary action has been taken against him.

She said teachers and staff don’t know where to start mediating concerns about racism among students.

“They brought us all together (to gather) and told us to talk about it,” Isabella told LeMasters. “And they didn’t even seem to know what they were going to do. They were asking us for advice on how we want them to fix it rather than just what to do.”

Superintendent DeKay said he knew nothing about the two students who were expelled from the Senate for participating in the strike. But at the end of the day, he said, the district wants students in class. The district wants to care about social justice, but it also wants to grow academically.

DeKay said he has not heard any concerns or reports about students making racist remarks about students of color.

“We have a staff that is very aware of and very supportive of cultural differences,” he said. “When we know things in the office, we work hard to investigate and do the right thing.”

Stephanie Lemaster, mother of Isabella Lemaster, introduced Announce With a copy of a letter you sent to your high school principal and superintendent urging the district to address racism in the classroom. She said she did not receive a response from the school district.

DeKay said he was aware of the letter and responded to Stephanie LeMasters via email on Friday.

Jeremy LeMasters said he gets angry when he hears his kids come home from school and talk about how they’ve faced racism from their classmates.

“I’m almost 50, dude,” Jeremy LeMasters said. “I’ve lived in Colorado almost my whole life. I’ve been dealing with this (expletive) since I was a little kid. My oldest son, he’s 26, comes out of here. Same stuff with him, you know? He didn’t want me to do any something about it.”

LeMasters said that when his eldest son was in school, his son didn’t want to rock the boat, get in trouble, or be ostracized. He said the whole situation was heartbreaking for him.

“My daughter literally cried for days because of these things,” he said. “And they love going to school. They are good kids, they are good students, and they don’t get into trouble.”

cburney@durangoherald.com

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