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Prank petition seeking permission to use the N-word sparks outrage at O.C. high school

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Message involving N-word petition at Marina high school.
(Los Angeles Times)

A petition circulated at Marina High School in Huntington Beach asking students of color for permission to use the N-word prompted school officials to discipline two students involved in the incident, a member of the school board said Wednesday.

Duane Dishno, president of the Huntington Beach Union High School District, described the petition as “a bad joke gone wrong on April Fools’ Day.”

“Kids made a mistake,” Dishno added. “It’s been dealt with. Everyone is OK.”

A student took a picture of the handwritten petition addressed to “Brown People,” shared it on social media and notified the principal after school, Dishno said.

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That student described the petition in a social media post as deeply offensive and hurtful.

The parents of the two students who created the petition were contacted and their children were disciplined the following day, Dishno said, adding that that those students were “remorseful.”

The student who shared photos of the petition online didn’t see the attempt at humor.

“The fact that this boy has the audacity to ask me and my melanin girly to sign an n word pass is appalling and a perfect representation of marina high school,” the student wrote over images of a boy holding the petition. “If you’re from my school please give me this boys @. Please this is disgusting. Y’all can think it’s a joke all you want. This is GROSS and wrong and for you to say the n word isn’t used like that anymore how ...”

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A second picture shows the handwritten petition with the title “Brown People.” The petition’s text is largely illegible in the photos but it appears to have about 15 signatures.

The district did not release the names or ages of the students involved in the apparent prank or exactly what kind of discipline they received.

Dishno said school officials told him the offended student posted on her Facebook page that her “school has taken this situation very seriously, and the boys are dealing with consequences for their actions. Thank you again for the support. It means the world to me.” The Daily Pilot did not gain access to or review the Facebook post Dishno described.

Marina High Principal Jessie Marion did not respond to a request for comment.

Natalie Frey, a mother of a Marina student not involved in the incident, said that she found out about the petition when her daughter called her attention to it on social media.

Frey said the school sends emails “all the time,” but that she did not receive any official notice from the school about the petition.

“This is more than a silly joke,” she said. “I think the way [the administration] dealt with it is extremely unfortunate. It was an opportunity to educate students on culture and on hate crimes, racism and bullying.

“There’s so many deaths of kids that are killing themselves because they’re being bullied. As a parent if we don’t have the opportunity to talk to our children, or even know what’s going on, how does that help us bridge the gap or protect our children?”

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Frey called it “appalling” that the school did not disclose the event to parents.

“We have to have these important conversations with our kids for all kids of color,” she said. “What kind of message does that send to kids of color? That their feelings don’t matter? That it’s not a big deal?”

Vega and Nguyen write for Times Community News.


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