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Idaho superintendent ‘distraught’ after student uses racist poster to ask classmate to dance

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IDAHO FALLS — The superintendent of a school district in Eastern Idaho affirmed the district does not condone racism or discrimination after a student used racist language on a poster to invite a classmate to a school dance.

The poster from Thunder Ridge High School had circulated on social media and garnered national attention after an report. It had read, “If I was Black, I’d be picking cotton … but I’m white, so I’m picking you.”

In a letter to families and employees, Bonneville Joint School District 93 Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said he was “distraught” when he learned what happened. He said school administration had addressed the situation with the student and student’s parents.

“While I will never be able to personally understand how it feels to be a target of racist and bigoted language, I recognize how traumatic such language must be,” he wrote.

“I am deeply sorry that such an awful remark was connected to our schools. I want to assure our students, families, and staff that the Bonneville Joint School District 93 does not condone or permit racism, intolerance, or discrimination in any form.”

In recent years, students in other states across the country, including Minnesota and Florida, have used similar phrases on invitations to school events, according to local news sources. Woolstenhulme said he was “devastated” to see that repeated in the Bonneville Joint School District 93.

In his letter, Woolstenhulme also pointed to the debates that started during the last legislative session over critical race theory and unsubstantiated claims of indoctrination happening in Idaho schools. He said those conversations may have made some teachers “understandably apprehensive” about teaching certain lessons.

“This incident underscores the importance for us to continue to learn about the history of racism, the stories of those who tirelessly worked and sacrificed to help our country overcome its past, and why racist language should never be tolerated,” the letter said. The student who made the poster, Woolstenhulme said, is “extremely remorseful.”

The superintendent vowed to continue to take steps to make all students feel safe, and work toward a future “that is finally free of racism.”

“I hope we will all remember that none of us is perfect, and that we have all had opportunities to learn and grow from our own mistakes,” Woolstenhulme said.

The incident has also garnered national attention. The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement Tuesday that said authorities and religious and political leaders must take racial bias and threats against minority communities seriously.

“We urge educational institutions to offer an anti-racist curriculum to students and make clear that they will not tolerate hate and bigotry on their campuses,” CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison said in a statement.


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