After Trump win, Summit County schools vigilant for bullying
November 15, 2016
Reports from around the country of minority students being bullied in light of the election of Donald Trump have schools and officials vigilant for similar incidents in Summit County.
As of Monday, the Park City School District hadn't heard any reports of overt bullying in schools. However, Molly Miller, the district's communications specialist, noted that a group of students wore Trump campaign gear to Park City High School last week.
Anna Williams, a teacher at the school and adviser of its Latinos in Action student group, said via email that the incident "created some discomfort" for many Latino students. However, the vast majority of non-Latino students have been supportive and have expressed a desire to serve as the "allies" of their Latino peers.
"Most non-Latino students at PCHS stand in solidarity with their Latino peers, and there has been tremendous support for the LIAs and other (English learners) at PCHS on behalf of community members and other stakeholders," Williams said. "I’ve had community members send flowers and make donations to LIA. The outreach has been amazing. The students from Teen Council wrote beautiful letters to the LIAs. We read them in class on Thursday. The kids feel supported and loved."
Shawn Kuennen, principal of Jeremy Ranch Elementary School, said in an email that the school did have a "minor incident that was deftly handled," but didn't elaborate on the situation.
"Things have really been smooth here at the Ranch," he said.
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In the wake of the election, Superintendent Ember Conley sent a letter to parents, describing how the district is working to keep schools inclusive. She said that there is no tolerance for hateful speech in the hallways and classrooms of Park City schools.
"Our schools are safe places where everyone is respected and valued," she said in the letter, which was distributed in both English and Spanish. "We are lucky to have diversity in our community; in fact, it is one of Park City’s great strengths that our children grow up enmeshed in a number of cultures and religions. We must continue to reinforce the great opportunities that knowledge of differences provides, and the respect critical to learning about diverse cultures and beliefs."
The Park City Board of Education also released a statement, urging parents to continue to teach their children to be tolerant of all people in the community.
The superintendents of the North Summit and South Summit School Districts said they are unaware of any incidents related to the election and have not seen an uptick in bullying since Election Day.
Elsewhere in the state, reports of students bullying and threatening minority students prompted Gov. Gary Herbert and State Superintendent Sydnee Dickson to issue a joint statement about the issue. The statement said students should feel safe in school and that harassment of students is in opposition to American principles.
"In Utah, we care about each other," the statement read. "As a community, we need to come together in supportive and safe environments. We encourage students to reach out in friendship and support to others, including those who may look, sound, or think differently than themselves. As a nation, we need more kindness, and we believe Utah can lead the way."