Black students at Upland elementary school reportedly bullied with racist drawings

An exterior of a building with sign that says "Pepper Tree Elementary School" surrounded by pine trees.
An exterior of Pepper Tree Elementary School in Upland. A series of racist incidents at the school has sparked outrage from parents and prompted district officials to respond.
(KTLA-TV Channel 5)

A series of racist incidents at an elementary school in Upland has sparked outrage from parents, district officials said, after children reportedly targeted classmates with demeaning drawings.

The mother of a girl at Pepper Tree Elementary School said her daughter, who is Black, was given drawings with the messages, “You’re my favorite monkey” and “To my favorite cotton picker,” according to KTLA-TV Channel 5, which obtained images of the drawings. The mother has since taken her daughter out of school, saying she continued to face harassment from classmates, KTLA reported.

Maylana and Rome Douglas, parents of three children at the school, said their daughter was also targeted.


“They said that they were going to give her [a drawing] that specifically said, ‘You’re my favorite slave,’ and they were going to show her as a slave hanging from a tree,” Maylana Douglas told KTLA.

In response, Upland school board president Sherman Garnett said in a YouTube video uploaded Friday that “racially insensitive, unacceptable incidents” had occurred.

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Feb. 21, 2023

“We deeply regret the hurt this behavior has caused our students, families and our community,” he said. “I want to make it perfectly clear that we have a strict zero-tolerance policy on any type of hate speech, harassment, discriminatory practices, behaviors, racial slurs, and any reports of these actions will be investigated thoroughly and immediately.”

The Upland Unified School District “will implement disciplinary action in these situations without hesitation,” Garnett said, though he did not elaborate.

Robin Allen, president of the Pepper Tree PTA, said the association “stands firmly against racism in all forms and the culture of oppression that permeates the United States.”

“As an association that represents all children, we must listen, educate and advocate beyond rhetoric and rise to correct all inequities and injustices,” he wrote in a social media post. “These recent incidents are not isolated incidents. We do not accept this at Pepper Tree.”