Marina High School’s football team prevailed against Segerstrom High School on Friday night, but for some, the focus wasn’t on the final score and Marina winning its first league title since 1986. Instead it was on a few fan-fashioned signs that have been criticized as offensive.
The schools’ parent districts — the Huntington Beach Union High School District and Santa Ana Unified School District — issued a joint statement Saturday saying that “two student-generated signs with racial undertones” were displayed in the area near the entrance of Westminster High School’s Boswell Field, which Marina uses for its home football games, and in front of the snack bar.
“Segerstrom students and parents saw the signs and received them as offensive,” the statement said.
The districts did not identify the offending signs, but photos of some have drawn criticism on social media, including three with the messages “Segerstrom favorite color is brown,” “Segerstrom doesn’t use deodorant” and “Segerstrom wears socks w/ sandals.”
During the 2017-18 school year, 89.5% of Segerstrom’s students identified as Hispanic or Latino, while 1.3% were white. The same year, Marina’s student body was about 49.1% white and 21.8% Hispanic or Latino.
Marina Principal Jessie Marion and Huntington Beach Union accepted responsibility for the incident and apologized to the students, families and staff at Segerstrom, according to the joint statement.
“Santa Ana Unified School District officials have shared their concerns with Huntington Beach Union High School District administrators regarding the incident, and are working together to resolve the issue and to use the unfortunate incident as a teachable moment for students,” the statement said.
Marion will meet with Segerstrom Principal David Casper “to consider next steps in collaboration with Segerstrom through restorative circles to help strengthen relationships as well as provide diversity training for Marina’s Associated Student Body and other student organizations,” the statement added.
Huntington Beach Union also has reached out to the Orange County Human Relations Commission and the California Interscholastic Federation in an effort to educate students on why the signs were wrong.
“Both districts want to assure students, parents, staff and community that both HBUHSD and SAUSD reject racism in any form in our schools and community and that it is never acceptable,” the joint statement said.
This isn’t the first time racial issues involving Marina students have surfaced this year. In April, images showing a student passing around a petition asking students of color for permission to use the “n-word” circulated on social media.
Two students were disciplined in that incident, which a district official described as “a bad joke gone wrong on April Fools’ Day.”