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Sacramento School, District Investigating Science Fair Project Criticized as Racist

SACRAMENTO -- A science fair project at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento outraged many after it made claims about the intelligence of certain ethnicities.

The Sacramento City Unified School District says counselors and social workers were at the McClatchy campus on Tuesday to speak with students about the controversy. Meanwhile, some off-campus are questioning how the project was up for a whole day before it was taken down.

"It is sad that my high school, coming from my old high school, that it came to this," Alex Drayton, who graduated in 2014, told FOX40. “We had different diversity in this school and everything. It’s just crazy like what happened recently.”

The project questioned whether Black, Latin and Southeast Asian students were intelligent enough for coursework in the school's Humanities and International Studies Program, otherwise known as HISP.

The student also suggested the racial imbalance in the HISP program is because "non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians" are more intelligent.

“The use of racially offensive language in our schools by anyone does not reflect our values as a school district and will not be tolerated," SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said.

The project was on display last Monday but was taken down after students and parents complained. Saturday, Aguilar issued a video statement about the project.

"No student should ever be made to feel that their race has anything to do with their ability to succeed," he said.

Karris Brooks, the president of the Black Student Union at McClatchy High School, told FOX40 that many times incidents of racism at the school have been "swept under the rug."

“I was pretty disgusted. But at the same time, the fact that it was able to be approved, I wasn’t really surprised,” Brooks said.

A spokesperson for the district said an investigation is underway and will be conducting interviews Tuesday and over the next week.

Meanwhile, Brooks wondered if that student even learned his lesson. She says he was still in class Tuesday.

"He's made a few comments saying it's given him popularity and he likes the attention," Brooks said.

"He’s known to be the person who likes to make those type of remarks, like even in class, in a class discussion, to get a reaction out of someone," said Kiana Brown, vice president of the Black Student Union. "So, in the end of the day, he might not even really mean it. I think this might be, like, a whole reaction stunt.”

Both Brooks and Brown felt the district needed to take action against the teacher in charge of the science fair.

"What I understand is that the kids had to go and get it approved by her. So, obviously, she had to have seen it," Brooks said.