By KIM HILSENBECK
At this Monday’s regular meeting, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees will hold a closed session discussion of recommendations stemming directly from an incident last spring at Hays High School involving racist graffiti on the door of the school’s only Black teacher.
In May, two 14-year old students of the teacher wrote racial slurs and then urinated on her classroom door, which was closed and locked for the weekend. The students had just been released from Saturday school—a form of discipline for high school students. They also went on a vandalism spree across the campus. The students were detained by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office two days after the incident.
At the time, there was local criticism of how the incident was handled by Hays High Principal David Pierce. The teacher said Pierce did not come to the school that weekend and did not call her about the problem.
In a statement released today, district officials said the recommendations are the result of the board and administration’s commitment to investigate the situation.
The recommendations are:
1. Develop a Critical Incident Plan at each campus and train all staff members.
2. Improve procedures for supervision and security of students after hours and during weekend activities.
3. Implement enhanced safety and security protocols in the spring for secondary schools to address end of school issues.
4. Attend Department of Justice training for administrators on recognizing sensitive employee issues.
5. Implement the Anti-Defamation League’s Peer Training Model for students at Lehman and Hays High Schools.
6. Implement a staff training program based on improving cultural competency and awareness.
7. Initiate process and programs for increasing the diversity of the district’s workforce.
8. Ensure all district personnel are aware of critical incident definition and reporting.
Superintendent Jeremy Lyon said the recommendations help fill in a missing piece within the organization; that of a well-defined program for staff and students to receive training in cultural competency.
“I’m confident the board will consider each recommendation carefully and direct our school district administration to pursue actions that align with our mission of valuing diversity,” Lyon said.
The statement makes it clear that the recommendations do not involve changing the long-standing mascot and school song at Hays High School, nor are they under consideration by the Board on Monday night.
It states: “The board and administration have fairly and consistently taken the position that any consideration of changing the Hays High School mascot or school song would start with a collaborative community and school-based formal process. This process would provide multiple opportunities for input and involvement for everyone interested in the matter, regardless of their position.”
The board meeting will take place at the Hays High School Career and Technology Building Board meeting room. Open session is scheduled to begin at 6:10 p.m.