NBC 11 – School parents, leaders work to cut racial tensions – 6/4/14

Posted June 11, 2014 /

School parents, leaders work to cut racial tensions

Baltimore’s Digital Harbor High School scene of violent incidents recently

UPDATED 9:28 AM EDT Jun 04, 2014
BALTIMORE —Digital Harbor High School leaders, parents and city police gathered Tuesday night at the south Baltimore school in hopes of easing racial tensions between black and Latino students after recent violent altercations. More than a dozen families gathered at the school for the meeting that came during the last week of classes for the year. Police and staff said they want to have an open dialogue about the issues before summer break and the next school year. “You could feel something was going on in school. Everything was starting to change. You could feel something bad was going on,” said Jose Dominguez, who graduated this past weekend. He described the tension at Digital Harbor as like a pressure cooker that’s been building all school year. “Friends and other classmates, they were feeling afraid of what was going on because it wasn’t only affecting Latino and African-American students. It was all the school,” Dominguez said. “It makes me concerned that we can’t get along and be friends and understand on a one-on-one basis,” said student Joel McDuffie. 11 News’ cameras weren’t allowed inside the special meeting Tuesday, where officers gave details about violent incidents that happened after school Wednesday and Thursday last week. Police said the latest incident involved groups of Latino and black students who got into a fight near the Inner Harbor that appeared to have been racially motivated. A student was injured, and two other students were charged. “Only seven students out of 100 Latino students showed up to school on Friday, so it’s very scary for them. They’re afraid to come to school,” said community activist Edgar Reyes. Representatives from Casa de Maryland, the NAACP and other groups called for peace during a meeting Monday. The principal told parents Tuesday that they’ve increased school police and city officers at the school and throughout the neighborhood and talked to students about reporting problems to staff. “They are going to work with more cultural diversity in the classroom with the students, have more community involvement and put out more safety tips for the students to be safer going home from school,” said parent Michelle Smalls. “We don’t want this problem. We want this problem to end here. We don’t want it to get bigger than what it is right now, and we want to see the solutions for the school,” said parent Annavel Dominguez through a translator. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she’s “very concerned” and that she hopes the meetings and interventions will help break down some of the barriers that have caused the tension. The school canceled after-school activities Friday because of the altercations, but they started again Monday. Officials said so far, there have been no issues.

Read more: http://www.wbaltv.com/news/school-parents-leaders-work-to-cut-racial-tensions/26321334#ixzz34MSnpz9X