Letter: Upsetting and Unacceptable

Letter to the Editor

Letter addressed to Malibu High and Middle school parents and staff

At Malibu High School, we take our responsibility for student, staff, and community safety very seriously and are reaching out to proactively let you know about an incident we are currently investigating. Every student should feel welcome at MHS. Unfortunately, recently, our community was wounded by an unacceptable incident, one that, regardless of student’s intention, can be described as a bias incident.

There was a report received late last week of a noose present in the film production class green screen room on campus and that it had been used in a threatening/intimidating way directed towards another student. We immediately located and removed the noose and began an investigation which we are still in the process of completing. A noose has no place in a school classroom. It is a symbol of bigotry and hatred directed against African-Americans. It is upsetting, unacceptable and not conducive to a safe learning environment for all of our students. It also is a symbol of suicide and mocks the seriousness of this mental health concern.

At the conclusion of the full investigation, discipline will be handled in accordance with California Education Code and applicable school and district policies. At this time, we have determined several students in the SharkTV class created and displayed the noose at varying times over a multiple week period. We also have determined that other students used the noose at varying times. We know that many students in the classroom were aware of the noose and did not take actions to notify an adult on campus to have it removed or stop the behavior as it occurred, which is upsetting. Given the nature of the class, the film students work in multiple spaces and throughout campus and the students were engaging in this behavior when the teacher was not present in the room. In addition to the investigation and addressing students, we are working to improve procedures with staff in order to ensure these spaces are inspected on a consistent schedule.

Every day, acts of intolerance can manifest themselves (ie: name calling, slurs, casual put downs, texts, jokes). In my 13 years in this community, I have had to confront these issues with students in elementary, middle and high school. We will use this opportunity to remind ourselves why we are here. This is an opportunity for education, a time to declare that we, as a school community, stand for respect and inclusion, a place where all are free to learn in a safe and welcoming environment. Regardless of students’s intention in this specific incident, there is clearly ongoing work for us all to do and I hope you will reinforce our expectations with your children.

We realize the sensitivity to growing intolerance online and in society. Everyone that calls MHS home (students, staff, families, alumni, community) must know that hate, disrespect and bullying behavior have no place on this campus. Our staff and I will continue to be vigilant and will address any slur, taunting, teasing or intimidation that is observed or reported. We appreciate the student who initially came forward and others who have since stepped up to inform school officials of this incident. Please remind your children to report anything they hear or see that is not right, inappropriate, might be suspicious or dangerous by telling an adult, school official, reporting to local law enforcement, or even to the We Tip Hotline at 1.800.78.CRIME. If they tell you, please inform us immediately so we can respond accordingly.

Patrick Miller

Malibu High School Principal