Demonstrators Protest Outside School District after Racist Graffiti Found

FAIRFIELD -- Demonstrators protested outside the Travis Unified School District on Monday saying more should be done after racist graffiti was found at Vanden High School.

While the school says they disciplined the parties involved, the Tri-City NAACP says it's not enough. They want the district superintendent to be held accountable.

"Since this has happened, I can see the difference in my son," Edward Russell said. "The anger, the anxiety, the frustration."

Russell says his son, a senior at Vanden, was the target of hate speech on campus.

In March, swastikas, Russell's son's name and several derogatory remarks were found spray painted around the campus.

District officials say those responsible were disciplined and forced to pay for the cleanup.

Later, the school was closed for the day following a reported threat to students. District officials said it had nothing to do with the racist graffiti.

Russell believes it wasn't just a simple act of vandalism.

"They charged the students that did this with vandalism. I want the superintendent to say, 'We made a mistake, it was a hate crime,'" Russell said.

More than a dozen protesters stood out front of the school district's offices asking for Superintendent Pam Conklin to step down.

"We are calling for Superintendent Conklin's immediate removal for her lack of leadership and the racial disparities she's allowed in her school district," Tri-City NAACP President Johnicon George said.

The school district said in a statement that "none of the students involved are enrolled or attending Vanden High School." The school district has not confirmed if the students were expelled or transferred to another school.

In response to the protest and media coverage, TUSD's Governing Board President Riitta DeAnda posted a statement to the district's website. In it, DeAnda says, "Expulsion is not the answer."

"Expulsion is not justice, but rather revenge. It is vindictive and does nothing to promote changed behaviors and attitudes in these young people."

DeAnda goes on to address the NAACP's response to the incidents:

To say that TUSD Superintendent Pam Conklin is racially insensitive and should be fired is absolutely unwarranted. For the NAACP to demonize her through public character assassination and adult bullying tactics is shameful. Mrs. Conklin invited and has met with the NAACP in an interest to address misunderstanding and miscommunication around these incidences.

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