Bastrop ISD awaits federal report on racial harassment

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — Nearly a year and a half after the Department of Education traveled to Bastrop to investigate charges of racial harassment in their schools, the feds have still issued no findings.

Authorities came in after the NAACP produced a stack of complaints about harassment, insults and intimidation of black teachers, staff and students.

The district has since launched its own diversity training program, but one community activist claims they are still sweeping racial problems under the rug.

“We’ve asked for the report several times,”  BISD Superintendent Steve Murray said. “We were given preliminary indications it was a great visit, that they found some positive things going on. It’s a little frustrating, It’s been some time since they came in.”

The district says the diversity training it launched for staff and faculty in 2014 has been going well and will continue through the fall.

“It talks about discrete things that can happen in the work place that can obviously be hurtful to people,” Murray explained. “I liked that it ran the gamut.”

However, community activist Steve Miller doesn’t think the district is doing enough.

“He says that because he has never come to the black community and sat down and talked with us,” Miller said. “He’s never done his own investigation to see what people’s concerns are.”

Miller gave KXAN News leaflets he says turned up in schools with black administrators. Leaflets left in restricted staff areas that tongue-in-cheek suggest anyone frustrated by the diversity training should go see “Helen Waite.” There is no such person.

“For teachers to put a flyer in the bathroom of the principal saying derogatory and intimidating things, you tell me what the climate is here in Bastrop,” Miller said.

When confronted with the leaflets, Superintendent Murray replied, “I’ve never seen that document. This is the first time I’ve seen it.”

Asked if the leaflet is disturbing Murray answered, “Absolutely,” and he promised to look into it.

Murray insists that the district is sensitive to all complaints and will look into them.

“Whether it’s someone who feels they were treated inappropriately for their ethnicity or any other reason we’re going to look into it,” Murray said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do as a school district and employer.”

Murray also points out that it’s proportion of 5% African American teachers matches the proportion of black students in the school.

However, he says there is a need to work on the gap among Hispanics.

Hispanic students make up 58% of enrollment in Bastrop ISD, but only 19% of the teachers.

blog comments powered by Disqus