The Salem, Wisconsin school where a student dressed as a Ku Klux Klansman will soon be the site where a new U.S. Department of Justice program created to defuse “racial tension and conflict” will be implemented, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports.
The aim of the program, called SPIRIT, is to “pull together students, families, staff and administrators in an effort to identify and resolve issues that provoke racial tensions,” The Sentinel wrote.
Westosha Central High School, recently the center of racial discord after a number of bullying incidents were brought to the administration’s attention by a 15-year-old freshman, confirmed the Justice Department will visit the school next year to launch SPIRIT at the Salem location. The DOJ will provide training to staff in an effort to implement the program.
Via the Sentinel:
“We are moving forward with specific actions for developing greater understandings regarding racial sensitivity on top of understanding and acceptance for all,” Principal Lisa Albrecht said in an email. She declined to comment further.
Niccole Simmons, one of two parents who complained to the federal agency about the school, applauded the development.
“That’s great. That was the goal — to get somebody in there who could help,” said Simmons, whose 15-year-old biracial daughter endured months of bullying at the school and on social media after arriving there in the fall. “I think it’s awesome.”
Mykah Simmons, the 15-year-old who has since come forward about the racial incidents she’s experienced, says that while teachers and students have offered their support, the bullying continues.
Mykah had been physically accosted, harassed on social media and threatened with lynching. Two days after the KKK incident, she found the word “N——” carved into a desk at the school.
“On social media it’s worse because kids from other places who don’t go to Central are getting involved in it,” she said.
Mykah said she was brought into a meeting with administrators who asked her to bring her concerns to them, rather than outsiders, in the future and sought her input on how to address the problems at Westosha Central.
“They were asking me, ‘What should we do about it?’ And I’m, like, ‘I’m not the teacher. I’m not in charge. You need to figure this out.’”
After Mykah detailed her bullying to the Sentinel, the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service reached out to the president of the Kenosha branch of the NAACP, Veronica King.
It’s unclear exactly when the program will launch next year.
SOURCE: Journal Sentinel | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty