Is BHUSD Failing to Prevent the Next School Shooting?

StudentsA Beverly Hills voter and former BHUSD student asks how disproportionate Black discipline statistics adversely effect our students, and professor Rowe raises the concern that these same stats may be a warning that BHUSD isn’t doing best practices for school safety

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (robinsrowe.com) 2020/10/24 – I received this email today:

I’m a BHUSD voter and a Beverly graduate. Black students are disciplined disproportionately harshly. I would not expect any racial group to experience what looks like discriminatory disciplinary action. Yet, as an immigrant, my experience at Beverly does align with these findings. How would you address the racial disparity in discipline that’s documented in the CRDC government study?

Thank you for writing and asking this important question.

Looking at the CRDC data, Black and Biracial BHUSD students experienced 3x the in-school suspensions expected and Latinos 2x. Furthermore, a 2018 UCLA study says disproportionate Black student suspensions is a statewide problem.

The CRDC statistics may indicate a failure in BHUSD of disproportionate minority punishment, like the UCLA study concluded. However, there is another possible interpretation that is more sinister.

The CRDC statistics may indicate a failure of BHUSD to protect minority students from being hassled as victims of racism, resulting in minority students getting into fights and subsequently disciplined.

Reportedly, there are incidents of outward racism at BHHS. A teacher told me some students will even taunt her, tell her she can’t punish them. They are deliberately using racist language for acting out, but have diminished capacity. These students are aware they are protected being Special Ed.

Samantha Fuentes on Zoom

Parkland Shooting survivor Samantha Fuentes discusses preventing school shootings

Parkland Shooting survivor and activist Samantha Fuentes joined us this week to give her advice on fixing school safety. Like many other students at her school, Samantha knew the Parkland shooter. She and her friends had been threatened many times by this student. He was notorious for his outward racism and dangerous mental health issues.

Samantha spoke of the absurdity of mandating clear backpacks, metal detectors and increasing armed guards after 17 students and staff were killed in the Parkland Shooting. The school staff, the school board, and the sheriff’s department had all been repeatedly warned, before he became a shooter, that a student was a toxic racist and a homicidal danger to others and to himself.

Officials didn’t take racism seriously enough and failed to avert a tragedy. Most of the people killed by the Parkland shooter were not minorities. The victims look like typical Americans. Being white doesn’t make one safe from homicidal white supremacists.

Homicidal racists may be motivated by feelings of hate, of being unfairly misunderstood, of suicidal isolationism as a loner and hold a psychotic fear of anyone different from themselves. Everyone seems against them. They may kill anyone regardless of race.

Aggressive racism is a clear warning sign of a potential school shooter.

It’s vital that BHUSD schools take toxic racism seriously. Especially so when it is students with known mental health issues. It must not be allowed to continue that teachers feel powerless to halt student racism.

Thorough handling of racist incidents in our schools and better support of minority students may be enough to resolve the 3x disproportionate Black student discipline stats. But, what if it’s not?

The person who wrote me says she observed racism while being a BHUSD student. She seems outspoken, so I’m guessing she reported it at the time and found the response from school officials inadequate. Or, perhaps the system itself discouraged her from reporting what she had seen. That students can safely, and if they wish to anonymously, report issues like this is important.

I will put better systems in place to keep our students safe and treated fairly.

Epilogue

The voter who wrote me responded to this post:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer and for taking this issue seriously. I appreciate that you looked at the data carefully and added information from UCLA. [Besides aggressive racism] adult mass shooters often have a history of violence against women.

Yes, additional warning signs of potential school shooters that authorities can act upon to prevent tragedy are evidence of misogyny, domestic violence and abuse of animals.

Robin S. Rowe is running for BHUSD School Board in the November 2020 election.