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Students and teachers protest over alleged racism in Monroe School District

A group of teachers, parents, and students are calling on the Monroe School District superintendent to resign for not doing enough to stop racism and hate.

MONROE, Wash. — A group of teachers, parents, and students are calling on the Monroe School District superintendent to resign for not doing enough to stop racism and hate.

It comes after a student walkout and protest Monday at district headquarters.

“Our students don't feel safe and welcome in our schools,” said Robyn Hayashi, a sixth-grade teacher.

She and others allege there's been a years-long pattern of racism, hate, and discrimination in their schools in the form of students targeting other students, and they say school leaders have largely looked the other way.

“We've had more incidents, more visible incidents, of hate in our schools and we, as educators and community members, feel that it's our duty and priority to come out and be a voice for our students,” Hayashi said.

Several people voiced their concerns during a school board meeting Monday evening.

“Our students are crying out to be heard, to be safe. Please listen, please act.  There must be real consequences for the threats made to the safety of others,” said Sarah Lunstrum, a parent.

The district recently placed the principal of Monroe High School on temporary non-disciplinary administrative leave after he repeated derogatory and racial slurs during an assembly aimed at addressing concerns about discrimination. He's now back on the job.

Students at the high school walked out Monday morning, accusing the district of failing to provide a healthy learning experience free of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

In a statement, Monroe School District Superintendent Dr. Justin Blasko said, "We are aware and actively working to address concerns of racism and discrimination in our schools. We are concerned about the reports we have received and are deeply saddened to hear of instances of hate in our schools. We continue to investigate all circumstances of racism and discrimination to the fullest extent possible.”

In addition to calling for the superintendent's resignation, community members who spoke out against the district are asking for more robust anti-racism measures and training in the district, as well as a safe way for students to report instances of hate.

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