‘There’s a cancer at this school’: Sacramento NAACP calls on school officials’ resignations amid hate crime investigation

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Sacramento vice principal now has the support of the NAACP and other community organizations after becoming the victim of a suspected hate crime.

Along with the racist graffiti left in front of her parking spot on campus and threatening online messages, the home address of West Campus High School Vice Principal Elysse Versher, Ph.D., was also shared online. Versher said her family was forced to temporarily move to an undisclosed location.

“What’s going on when it’s OK for students to call their vice principal the N-word?” Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams said at a press conference Friday. “What’s going on when parents come together in this school and think it’s OK, that the culture is so perfect, that they feel comfortable calling their vice principal the N-word?”

Versher said she’s been the victim of racist name-calling by students and parents for years.

“She had been dealing with this for three years and the fact that the principal just sent out a notice of any kind this past week is despicable,” Williams said.

On Tuesday, Principal John McMeekin sent a letter to West Campus parents telling them about the racist vandalism and social media discourse. The following day, the Sacramento City Unified School District sent a release condemning racism.

But Williams said those words are not enough anymore.

“There’s a cancer at this school. The bottom line is, it has to be eliminated.” 

Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams

“The bottom line is we have a principal that needs to pull up his big man pants and handle this situation,” she told reporters.

According to community leaders, the suspected hate crime against Versher is just an example of what they called a dysfunctional school system that has not taken any noticeable action against these kinds of incidents. Change needs to happen now, the group said. 

“She represents a start to being able to speak your truth,” said Toni Tinker-Loken, the vice president for the Sacramento chapter of the Black American Political Association of California.

After seeing other incidents happen with teachers and students at Kit Carson International Academy and McClatchy High School, those with the African American Advisory Board and the Black Parallel School Board said they will be pushing the superintendent to do better in addressing racism within Sacramento classrooms.

“That stereotype of African Americans and what they are and what we deserve and what we don’t deserve has persevered,” Tinker-Loken said. “It’s sad, it’s disheartening that we are still here.” 

“Do you know how many parents have not said anything? Who are representative of the group of kids that purported this stuff? It’s amazing,” said Black Parallel School Board Chairman Darryl White. “The days where you can just stand on the fence or sit on the fence are over.”

On top of pressing for more serious charges against those responsible for the hate crime against Versher, Williams said the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Principal McMeekin, several members of the district’s school board and SCUSD Superintendent Jorge Aguilar.

“There’s a cancer at this school,” she said. “The bottom line is, it has to be eliminated.” 

Despite calling for Aguilar’s resignation, Williams said they will be meeting with him early next week to present a letter detailing the grievances they have against the school district. 

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