The Justice for WVUSD booklet is a 34-page petition compiled by several Diamond Bar High School alumni focused on the reporting discrimination felt by students in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.
It includes 10 pages of student grievances along with data analyses, potential policy reforms and signatories.
“Many of the complaints about teachers ignoring incidents were surprising to me because, for the most part, I have had very kind and overall good teachers at WVUSD,” sophomore Olivia James said via Instagram. “I couldn’t imagine how teachers could see abuse or racism first hand and not do anything.”
James also said that as she continued to read the booklet, the complaints became less surprising to her as she has seen and experienced similar incidents at school.
The letter categorizes the anonymous complaints submitted from students by racism, sexism, sexual harassment or abuse, homophobia and transphobia as well as various other complaints that do not fit into any one category or fall under multiple categories.
The complaints mainly allege a lack of administrative response or incorrect administrative response to student grievances and include testimonies from students.
“Three female students reported an incident involving bullying, abuse and stalking by a pair of male students to a GLC,” one entry said. “When the boys were called in to explain to the GLC, the boys claimed it was a misunderstanding. Administrators took no further action.”
Aside from their shock at some of the grievances, students who read the letter also expressed pride for the project’s initiative, and attempt at pushing for policy reforms.
“I think the Justice for WVUSD project is a great way to start small changes to stop the racist behavior in our community,” sophomore Trinity Chen said via Instagram. “ I was proud that as a community and as the next generation, we took a stand and decided to say no to behavior and mindsets that endanger certain groups of people based [on] prejudice.”
Among other incidents cited in the letter were student reports of English teachers encouraging students to use racially demeaning terms when they appeared in the required reading, a teacher openly displaying a confederate flag in their classroom, a teacher denouncing a student by calling her demeaning term based on the way she was dressed and a staff member contacting a student’s parents about their sexuality without the student’s consent.
Following the grievances, the booklet listed the names of several WVUSD staff members who were associated with incidents mentioned in the student complaints, but this list was later taken down due to confidentiality issues. The project’s authors addressed this action in a post on Instagram.
“When we initially published the booklet/letter, we wanted to ensure that these reports seemed like they could come from any student about any teacher,” the notice said. “In the end, we realized that much of the attention being given to the document was surrounding the teachers’ names rather than the grievances or policies themselves.”
One student said that some of the complaints seem like misunderstandings and assumptions and that there wasn’t enough context for them to be able to judge whether the behaviors of the teachers or students were incorrect.
“I believe that all the teachers deserve a second chance. They should use this as a learning opportunity to better themselves,” they said.
The letter goes on to list the potential reforms that the alumni would like to see take place in the 2020-2021 school year. Some of the reforms listed involve improving communication with immigrant parents and students as well as stricter disciplinary policies concerning incidents that deal with discrimination.
“By organizing student voices, our long-term goal is to create a safe environment on WVUSD campuses where marginalized students feel like they are prioritized,” the letter said.
The Justice for WVUSD booklet’s official website can be found at https://justiceforwvusd.carrd.co/.