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Group demands Clark County School District draft anti-racism policy

Posted at 8:17 PM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 23:45:14-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A campaign in Las Vegas is demanding the school district protect students and teachers from racist comments and behavior on school campuses with written policy.

Outside of the Clark County School District trustees meeting at Las Vegas Academy high school, the group No Racism in Schools #1865 gathered to push its #WriteThePolicy initiative.

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Thursday's demonstration comes on the heels of last week’s CCSD Board of Trustees meeting, in which the trustees agreed to start working on an anti-racism policy despite vocal opposition from board member Katie Williams, who represents District B.

While there is an established policy against bullying and cyberbullying, No Racism in Schools says more needs to be done when racist and offensive situations happen to anyone on campus.

“When racial incidents happen, occur on campus, it gets put into the bullying category," said Akiko Cooks, who co-founded the local chapter of the group along with Jai Marshall.

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"So there’s nothing recorded that it was a racial incident," Cooks said, "because it was 'bullying.'"

"It’s actually policy 5137," she explained. "If you even type in 'anti-racism' on the Clark County School District website, nothing comes up."

Cooks says some incidents may not fall completely into a bullying category and those actions still need to be held accountable.

“We do not want the bullying policy to be amended, we want a completely separate policy to be created and implemented," she clarified.

"Washoe county has just done it, so it can definitely be done," she said. "And it should be done."

The group No Racism in Schools #1865 stands outside Las Vegas Academy where the Clark County School District Board of Trustees meeting is being held on March 11, 2021. They are calling for the district to craft a policy that protects students and teachers from racist comments and behavior on school campuses.

"65 years later we're still talking about anti-racism in the school district. It shouldn't even have to be this length of discussion," said Cooks.

"We shouldn't have sitting trustees in opposition of this policy. That's screams volumes, that says a lot."

Meanwhile, the school district said in a statement it "does not tolerate racially insensitive behaviors that contradict an inclusive community and impact the school culture of our students…"

CCSD went on to say:

Additionally, as CCSD strives to be an inclusive and respectful environment, the Board of School Trustees held a discussion regarding anti-racist policies during the March 3, 2021, Board Work Session. The Board is working on an anti-racism Resolution.

Both Cooks and Marshall say they've experienced the impact of a lack of a hate crime or anti-racism policy in CCSD first-hand.

Two years ago their children were targeted for threats of violence and murder by two white students at Arbor View High School.

RELATED: Parents demand answers after racist threats at Arbor View HS

The two have worked to engage the community of parents, teachers and students to advocate for a policy that would protect students of color, LGBTQ+ students, neurodivergent students and others who may be targeted by their peers.

To watch the full CCSD Board of Trustees meeting for March 11, 2021, click here.