Santa Barbara Unified Reports on Future Plans for Addressing Racial Incidents
Community Members Criticize District For Lack of Transparency, Communication with Families Affected
Assistant Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified School District Frann Wageneck gave a presentation to the school board Tuesday about responding to racial incidents, following the district’s report that there have been 12 racially motivated cases of violence or harassment across its campuses.
The report included practices for response, plans for more anti-bias training, and the district’s breakdown of offenses and proportionate disciplinary action. “It’s not enough that we have policies,” Wageneck said “We must constantly answer those who rightfully expect us to dismantle anti-Blackness with targeted practices.”
There have been 12 reports of racial incidents brought up by district officials, with 11 of those specifically targeting Black students and teachers. Wageneck said two of those incidents were “especially egregious,” and involved targeted violence towards a student or teacher. She reiterated that the district would not go into specific detail on the incidents to protect the privacy of students involved.
Following this admission from the district, Healing Justice Santa Barbara created a petition calling on the district to do more to protect Black children, also creating a list of demands for the district, which included accurately reporting incidents of anti-Blackness and providing culturally responsive Black mental-health providers.
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Wageneck went over district reporting processes for teachers, students, and parents, including reporting to district administrators and students identifying trusted adults on campus to speak to when incidents occur. The presentation included future action to be taken by the district, such as anti-bias training for staff and engaging with families in the community.
Wageneck also laid out practices for responding to future incidents; including assessing the physical and mental safety of the victim and those in the targeted group, investigating swiftly and seriously, preserving evidence, and contacting the community that represented the targeted group.
During public comment, parents of children in the district and members of the community criticized the presentation, pointing to the lack of specification of anti-Blackness when discussing the racial incidents. Parents of children who were targeted also said many of them have not received a response from the district after reaching out for help. Community members also pointed out that anti-bias training for staff does little to address students’ actions.
Krystle Farmer Sieghart, cofounder of Healing Justice Santa Barbara, further criticized the presentation for not including specific language regarding anti-Blackness, and not recognizing Healing Justice’s role in creating and uplifting Black healing spaces in Santa Barbara. “Who are you doing this work for and who are you serving? Because this is not serving Black people.”
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