Orange County schedules forums about hate incidents in schools

The Orange County Human Relations Commission will join the county Department of Education in presenting two public forums this month exploring the impact of hate-driven incidents among students, schools and their communities.

The first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the department’s headquarters at 200 Kalmus Drive in Costa Mesa and will focus on discussions by parents and students on their experiences with hate on school campuses. Information gathered at the forum will then be used at a second meeting for teachers, counselors and school administrators scheduled for 8 a.m. Jan. 22 at the same location.

The county says the purpose of the forums is to help establish a safer school community.

The effort follows the release of the Human Relations Commission’s 2018 Hate Crimes Report, which indicated a 12% increase in reported hate crimes in Orange County, compared with 2017. A total of 165 hate incidents were reported in 2018, a 37% increase from the 2017 Hate Crimes Report, punctuating a continuing growth trend since 2015.


The Newport-Mesa Unified School District was rocked in March when photos surfaced on social media of an off-campus party in Costa Mesa where several students from local high schools were seen making Nazi salutes over a swastika made of red plastic cups. The incident, which drew extensive media coverage, led to several community forums and the formation of the district’s Human Relations Task Force.

Marina High School in Huntington Beach was embroiled in controversy in October over signs with racial overtones at a football game between Marina and Segerstrom High School. Marina also made headlines in April after a phony petition was circulated on campus asking students of color for permission to use the n-word. Two students were disciplined in the incident that one school official described as “a bad joke gone wrong on April Fool’s Day.”

In May, students from Newport Harbor High School reportedly were involved in “overtly racist” messages in a private Instagram group chat.

Similar incidents involving high school students were reported elsewhere in the county last year.

Nguyen writes for Times Community News