For the second time in less than a year racist graffiti was found scrawled in a girls’ bathroom at Riverside Brookfield High School. The racist graffiti was discovered in the same bathroom where similar graffiti was found last November.
Like last year, the graffiti stated “whites only” according to a student who was part of a meeting Assistant Principal of Student Affairs Dave Mannon held Thursday morning with 20 student leaders to discuss the incident.
According to the student Mannon said the graffiti had the same or similar handwriting as last year’s racist graffiti.
The person who wrote the graffiti has apparently not yet been identified but administrators have their suspicions. According to the student, Mannon said that the graffiti appeared after administrators had spoken to a student about a photo of a Confederate flag that was on the student’s Snapchat page.
Last year administrators waited six days to publicly disclose the racist graffiti. Last year’s racist graffiti led to a student protest at a “Positivity Day” assembly the school held after the incident was publicly disclosed. Social Studies teacher Jill Musil discovered the graffiti last year and spoke at the assembly. Musil was eventually not rehired sparking protests and outrage from many students. Administrators said that the decision not to rehire Musil had nothing to do with her speaking at the assembly.
This year the administration moved much more quickly.
On Aug. 21, the same day as the graffiti was discovered, RBHS Principal Kristin Smetana sent an email to RBHS parents stating that racist graffiti was found in a girls’ bathroom.
“Displays of racism of any kind will not be tolerated and we are committed to providing additional learning opportunities for our students,” Smetana wrote. “While we cannot share additional information about the ongoing investigation, please note that any student found to be defacing property will be disciplined accordingly.”
Smetana also urged students not to share photos of the graffiti on social media and not to ignore it.
“Students who choose to ignore the graffiti or post pictures of it on social media do not help solve the problem and hinder the administration’s investigation of the incident,” Smetana wrote. “We urge students to report graffiti and any racist acts, immediately, to the Deans of Students, Assistant Principal of Student Affairs, or any Security team member. Students may also go online to report this behavior on the Anonymous Bullying Report on RB’s website.”
The graffiti was also quickly removed by staff.
The next day the school’s morning announcements mentioned the racist graffiti and stated that discrimination will not be tolerated at RBHS and said that the school was taking steps to find out who wrote the graffiti.
In an email to the Landmark, Smetana outlined several steps, many developed after meetings with students last year, RBHS is taking to promote a more respectful and accepting culture at RBHS.
These include holding a tolerance week, grade level assemblies to remind students of behavioral expectations and consequences for actions, creation of a Student Advisory Board to receive feedback from students, joining the Hate has No Home Here movement by hanging signs around the building, holding monthly meetings with student leaders of clubs and activities to receive feedback on culture and climate at RBHS, creating a peer mediation group where student leaders will help to resolve conflicts between students, scheduling a social-emotional learning experience for students, and having the Association of Students for Tolerance hold monthly discussions on issues of tolerance and race.