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Grand Haven superintendent responds to racism investigation

7:24 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- The Grand Haven School District is responding to a federal and county investigation, launched after several families claim their children experienced racism at Grand Haven High School and little was done about it.

Three families contacted WZZM 13. They claim their children are targets of racism, including freshmen Katie Bridgeforth and Dystany Dunn.

"I was sitting out in the hallway and taking my test and this dude was like-- hey slave, hey slave, you picking any cotton lately?" says Bridgeforth.

"These dudes were like why don't you sit at the back of the bus and then they called us the 'n' word and said all this sexual stuff," recalls Dunn.

Parents reported another racist student wearing a white KKK cone but say little was done. Frustrated, they filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, something Superintendent Keith Konarska says he's cooperating with.

"We welcome the third party review because we feel we've taken appropriate steps in this situation," says Konarska.

Konarska says the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department is now investigating to see if there's a criminal case, but disciplined six students in the meantime.

"We've been investigating a total of six incidents and are taking this extremely seriously. The behaviors are unacceptable in the district," says says Konarska.

To stop the behavior, the district is working with the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance to create a new program.

Andre Daley, Associate Executive Director says, "The students who ended up doing this kind of behavior will be required to participated in order to be admitted to school."

The district would not comment on the type of discipline students received. The prosecutors office says they're still reviewing the case.

If found negligent, the school could face penalties.

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