CEDAR PARK, Texas - Parents and students are speaking out against Leander ISD for how they handled an incident that involves students stealing a Black Lives Matter sign and yelling racial slurs. They don’t feel the students were punished enough.
“I’m just really appalled at what’s happening, it shows there is a time for change with the district,” Leander ISD parent Jamilah Stockwell said.
Video captured on a home’s surveillance camera shows someone stealing Black Lives Matter signs from the Twin Creeks neighborhood and later another person can be heard yelling a racial slur.
“We were so disappointed and disgusted, me and my husband followed every route, we sent letters to the district, to the principal, to the director,” Leander ISD parent Shelia Hunter said.
The school district said those involved were a group of teenagers from Cedar Park Middle School and High School. Both Hunter and Stockwell have kids on the dance team which claims some of those in the group of students are members.
On Thursday their daughters along with most of the dance team spoke out against their actions, calling on the school to kick those involved off the team. “When you know these people who did this, it hurts because we still have to go to practice every day,” said dance team member Erica Shepherd.
Both Stockwell and Hunter feel the school district isn’t doing enough when it comes to the punishment for the students involved. “I don’t think it’s right for my daughter to perform with people who feel like people who look like her should die,” said Hunter.
Leander ISD put out this statement from the superintendent and CPMS and CPHS principals:
Leander ISD condemns racism in any form.
District staff and law enforcement investigated a July incident where a group of teenagers, including students from Cedar Park middle and high schools, stole Black Lives Matter yard signs in the Twin Creeks neighborhood, and one uttered a racial slur. We are extremely upset and saddened by the actions of the students involved, which directly harmed our community and reflect negatively on themselves, their families, classmates, teachers, and schools. Those involved have received consequences in accordance with the district's disciplinary standards and campus principals continue to meet with families to address their individual questions and concerns.
We believe our current and former students have bravely shined a light on where intolerance and bigotry exist in Leander ISD, and it is extremely upsetting to see this kind of attack in our community. Because of student privacy requirements, we cannot comment on the specifics of the situation or disciplinary action. Our district stance on racism has not changed and we will not tolerate racism on our campuses and in our extracurricular activities.
The groups and classrooms connected to these students will need to grapple with and learn from this terrible incident. Disciplinary action plays its part. So does peer-to-peer discourse and shared learning from mistakes and failure. Both campuses have staff members (and students at CPHS) leading conversations around equity, diversity, and access on our campuses. This will continue to be a focus area for our entire district and we are using the incident that occurred this summer as an opportunity to grow as individuals, educators, and as a community.