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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ladue High Students Walk Out to Protest Racially Charged Incidents

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 3:24 PM

click to enlarge Young people march against Donald Trump in downtown St. Louis Sunday. An incident involving students who chanted "Trump! Trump!" now has Ladue students taking to the streets. - PHOTO BY STEVE TRUESDELL
  • Young people march against Donald Trump in downtown St. Louis Sunday. An incident involving students who chanted "Trump! Trump!" now has Ladue students taking to the streets.

More than 100 students walked out of Ladue Horton Watkins High Wednesday afternoon, protesting several recent racially charged incidents at the school.

Last week, school district spokeswoman Susan Downing told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, two male students started chanting "Trump, Trump, Trump" as they boarded a crowded bus. The situation escalated quickly from there, with at least one of the students calling for the black students on the bus to move to the back.

And at an emotional school board meeting on Tuesday night, students and parents came forward to relate more stories of in-school racial intolerance over the past year.

A fifteen-year-old student named Tajah Walker has suffered five incidents this school year alone, according to her mother, Tango Walker-Jackson, as the P-D reported. One such incident involved a student asking if she was "ready to get back on the boat now that Trump is president.”

Through tears, Tajah told the board, “I wake up every day not wanting to come to school."

Another parent, Lynette Ursery, told the board that her son had been intentionally burned with a hot glue gun by a student who said he "didn't belong here." The fifteen-year-old had to be taken to the emergency room. (Photos below.)

“I moved into this district thinking it was a decent district, looking at the numbers and the academics,” Ursery said to the board, according to the Post-Dispatch. “It’s unacceptable.”

The public school is one of the highest ranked in the state, finishing third among Missouri schools in U.S. News & World Report's annual list. Located in the wealthy suburb of Ladue, its student body is 38 percent minority.

The two students on the bus were disciplined, though the specific nature of the discipline is unclear due to federal student privacy laws. The school was quick to publicly denounce the behavior.

“This is not something we are taking lightly at all,” Downing told the daily. “This is not what we stand for in our district, and it's time to react to that and make sure that we know who we are, what's expected and what we stand for as a school community."

Students at the high school have apparently taken Downing's words to heart — reacting with a walk-out.

More than 100 students gathered outside at noon on Wednesday in protest of these incidents, the Post-Dispatch reports, saying they don't believe the board is taking the issue seriously enough. The group then marched on the streets around the school, ultimately arriving at the administrator's office and demanding that Downing allow them to speak to the superintendent.

Administrators from the school have said they were already in the process of creating a more tolerant atmosphere before the school bus incident, including through diversity training for staff. Still, for some students, the measures haven't been enough.

"We'll come back to school when they treat us right," Tajah Walker told the Post-Dispatch. "If they suspend me, they better suspend everybody."

[This article was edited a half hour after it was published to include photos of the student who was burned with a hot glue gun.]

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