Women's Justice Center, Centro de Justicia Para Mujeres
Home, Pagina Principal, About, Sobre Nosotras, Funding, financiamient
What's New What's New, Que Hay de Nuevo
Help. Ayuda
The Maria Teresa Macias Case, El Caso de Maria Teresa Macias
Criminal Justice, Justicia Criminal
Women in Policing, Mujeres Policia
Guest Book, Lobro de Vistantes
Workshops / Talleres
jContact Us, Contactanos



Criminal Justice

Back to Criminal Justice Index

Three Mothers Speak Out for
Their African American Daughters' Rights

n mid-March, 2000, the mothers of three African American high school girls came to us for help. The mothers said that their pleas to Maria Carillo High School officials to protect their daughters from the racism and sexism at the school had gone unheeded. After considering a number of options, the women decided to jointly send a letter to school officials, to local civil rights groups, and to the press. Following is the mothers' March 23rd letter.

Following the mothers' letter we print the written response sent to the mothers by the School Superintendent's office. The reply from the Superintendent's office illustrates, perhaps better than any discourse, the wall of indifference encountered by the women in trying to get help.

The Mothers' March 23rd Letter

Mr. Tom Crawford,
(Superintendent of Schools)

e are three mothers, each with an African American daughter who, until this week, was attending Maria Carillo High School. We are writing you with serious concerns about the safety of our daughters at this school. One of the girls was wrongfully expelled from the school on Wednesday. Because of long, escalating hostilities, we are now afraid to have the other two girls go to school. In fact, for the last two days we have kept the girls at home.

Throughout this school year, and last year too, the girls have told us about ongoing and unabated racial hostilities directed against the girls by other students. As parents, we have had several meetings with school officials asking for their help in putting a stop to this constant racial and sexual harassment of the girls. And we have been very dissatisfied with the school's inability and seeming unwillingness to enforce their policy of `no tolerance' for this kind of behavior, behavior that is so dangerous and so obstructive of the girls' rights to an equal education.

In the last couple months the situation has escalated alarmingly. There have been writings on school property that say "(girl's name), the black one, is a nigger. I'm going to kick her ass." The girls have heard comments like, "I have black people in my family tree, and they're hanging from it" and more. The girls are razzed by classmates whenever they attempt to participate in the Black Student Union. Some teachers do nothing to stop this harassment. And in one case the teacher actively blocked the girl's ability to get to the meeting on time.

onfederate flags, clothes bearing slogans such as "the KKK is getting larger," and other oppressive symbols are allowed to be worn and displayed throughout the school, even though the girls have gone to school officials a number of times to say how upsetting and offensive these things felt to them. The girls have been variously called "Ho's", and "Bitches", and "Monkeys", and it has been made clear to the girls by some students that they (the girls) are not wanted at the school. When one of the girls attempted to defend her culture and let the teacher know that a comment just made in class was upsetting her, the teacher snapped at the girl and told her more than once to act "civilized". During a talent show, while these girls were performing, racial and sexual remarks were being made by a number of students in the audience. Following the performance, when the girls were in tears over the incident, a school official told the girls to `leave it alone' and then did nothing to help the girls.

In the last two weeks, these hostilities have broken into physical fighting in at least two incidents and the kids are beginning to dangerously gang up, with only the minority kids being held accountable.

Of particular concern is the continued failure of the school to properly investigate these matters, the coercive measures the school has pressed on the girls, and the discriminatory way in which the school has increasingly laid blame and punishment on our girls while allowing white offenders to go without being held accountable. These failures of the school to protect the girls' rights as the school is obligated to do under Title VI and Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act is fueling the racist and sexist behavior of the students toward the minority students.

he girls, deeply upset and crying, have been kept in the office and made to write and sign statements under the school's coercion. Though the girls repeatedly asked to phone their mothers, school officials told the girls that they couldn't do so until they wrote the statements. In addition, the school officials repeatedly threatened the girls with suspension unless they wrote and signed these same statements.

Our daughters are caring, intelligent, sociable, and talented young girls with a lot of interest in life and school. They have received many glowing comments from previous and current teachers who welcomed and enjoyed them in their classrooms. It's just so wrong that the girls are having to go to school lately every day being so afraid, and hurt, and their spirits being crushed. They have a profound right to be at this school, to be safe, to feel welcomed, protected, and wanted. And the school has consistently failed to protect their rights.

We are writing you to ask you immediate help in correcting this serious problem at Maria Carillo School. You can contact us directly, or you can contact us through Marie De Santis at the Women's Justice Center at (707) 575-3150.

Thank you for your attention.

Signed by the three mothers

School Superintendent's April 14th Reply

Dear (Mother's name),

Mr. Tom Crawford sent me a copy of your letter of March 23, 2000. Therefore, in accordance with district procedures, enclosed you will find a copy of the district's Board Policy #1181.2, Complaints Concerning Schools or School Employees, and the Formal Complaint Form.

If you decide to complete the form, please return it to my attention at the address located on the bottom of the form.


Signed by Mel Solie, Deputy Superintendent

Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women's Justice Center,

All rights reserved © 2010 by Woman's Justice Center
Web site by S. Henry Wild