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Greendale School District investigating two instances of students using racially-charged language

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GREENDALE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Shocking video circulating around Greendale shows a high school student repeating racial slurs.

The school says the video was taken off school grounds but they've outlined measures in the coming months to help with diversity issues.

"My heart dropped because here again, my daughter's hearing this again. It dropped more for her," said Diannia Merriett who shared the video on Facebook.

She wants the school to punish students that use racial slurs.

CBS 58 first reported her story in October. Merriett's daughter was suspended after she says she was called the n-word.

"When my daughter was called the n-word the school said there's no video, we can't prove it. This is proof. This is proof this is happening," said Merriett.

In the video, a Greendale High School student can be heard saying two racial slurs.

The student in the video tells CBS 58 News that the video was recorded over a year ago and that a person was on top of him, asking him to say those words.

The School District released a statement on Monday saying that they've learned this week of two instances of students using racially charged and inappropriate language.

The District said they investigate these types of incidents but didn't specify the findings from the video.

Merriett hopes the video pushes the school and the community to take action.

"When things like this happened in Baraboo, the community came together and said this is not who we are. I need Greendale to stand up and say this is not who we are," Merriett said.  

The School District mentioned this is the second racially charged video this week. We're told the other was a video from an elementary school. 

The school sent out a statement titled 'Embracing the Strength of Our Community's Increasing Diversity:'


Strong public schools and a high quality of life make Greendale an attractive place for young families to live. Greendale Schools is welcoming more and more students from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. With this increasing diversity, we are working as schools and community to ensure Greendale sees this shift as a strength that provides opportunities to understand new perspectives and discover the similarities we all share.

Unfortunately, we have learned this week of two instances of students using inappropriate and racially charged language. While these matters did not take place on school grounds or during the school day, we have an obligation to make sure that our students feel physically and emotionally safe in our schools. Greendale Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students. District administration takes every student, family, and staff concern seriously and investigates all matters brought to our attention. The use of hate speech and harassment has no place in our schools or community.

Greendale Schools' administration is taking proactive steps to build practices and policies that celebrate and appreciate Greendale's diversity. The Greendale School Board has been involved in book studies and regional conversations about equity. Staff are receiving ongoing professional development regarding culturally responsive practices. This includes how to respond to bias, discrimination, and racism.

Greendale Schools is also organizing a community leadership workshop in April with leaders from churches, government, schools, businesses, and community organizations to explore our individual and collective roles in creating an environment of belonging and support for our families. We are also planning a community forum in May with a listening session as a first step in working with community members to generate solutions to make our community a safe place to work, play and learn for all Greendale families.

Our middle and high school students are working to create a more positive climate for all students. High school student leaders are launching a survey of students, staff and the community this spring to get feedback on three possible improvement areas: appreciation of diversity, creating a stronger sense of belonging, and more effective communication. Based on the survey results, they will develop solutions and action steps to meet the needs of our students, families, and community. Please watch for and complete the survey when it is shared. I am excited by the work and inspired by the students' commitment.

I look forward to working with the community to make Greendale a great place for all families.

We are inspiring minds!

Gary Kiltz, Ph.D
Superintendent
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