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Investigation Launched After White Student Caught Hurling Racial Slurs and Attacking a Black Student; District Grappling with Ongoing Incidents of Harassment

A possible hate crime investigation has been launched at Monroe High School located in Washington state, after two students were involved in an altercation that led to a Black student being hit over the head with a plastic  bottle after allegedly being called the N-word repeatedly. 

According to Monroe police Cmdr. Paul Ryan, the incident occurred last Wednesday, Nov. 10, just before lunchtime, when a white student was heard in a video hurling racial slurs at the other student in a parking lot located at the school. 

Monroe High School, Monroe Washington (Credit: Monroe School District)

The outlet said that at one point during the encounter, the white student, whose identity has not been made public, hit the other in the head with a plastic water bottle. Ryan said a third student tried to defuse the situation, before a school officer stepped in, though the interaction was brief.

Monroe High School principal Brett Wille sent out letters to parents that evening, informing them that school administration was working with law enforcement during the investigation. 

“It is with great sadness that I write to let you know about an incident that occurred today at Monroe High School involving racial slurs and aggression towards a Black/African American student,” Wille wrote

The letter continued, “This incident occurred in the parking lot during lunch time and was witnessed by a handful of other students, was video recorded, and was possibly shared on social media. It also resulted in additional police presence on campus and we are partnering with law enforcement in their investigation of this incident.”

Monroe School Board member Jeremiah Campbell also spoke out, telling reporters that he had a “visceral knot in my stomach” over the incident. “I am horrified that any student would have to deal with any level of racism,” he said. “To say things like that — I have no words.”

The news outlet reported that racism had been an ongoing issue in Monroe schools. The outlet further noted that a survey conducted by a student-led Monroe Inclusion Collective found that, out of 89 respondents, over 57 percent had experienced racism in the district. 

The report also said that the incidents were most likely to happen outside the classroom but on school grounds, much like what took place last week. 

However, an alarmaing 82 percent of those respondents said they did not report their incident to administration or higher up, citing distrust in staff and a lack of representation among leadership. Of the students who did report mistreatment, roughly 82 percent said they didn’t feel safe after placing their complaints.

These findings were presented to Melanie Ryan, board president of the Monroe Equity Council who told the Los Angeles Blade, “All of those students and their families have continually expressed ongoing issues of bullying and harassment and various types of incidents that just haven’t been adequately addressed by the district.”

She added, “What will ultimately decide whether we progress or not is going to likely be the students themselves. The students will have a powerful ability to put pressure within this system to say we don’t accept this anymore.”

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