Washington’s Centennial Elementary backpedals minority-only club after parent outrage

A Washington elementary school planned to ban white students from a new “safe space” club until backlash forced it to reconsider segregating its fifth-graders.

Centennial Elementary in Olympia started the calendar year with a new “black, indigenous, people of color” fifth-grade student body that only accepted its minority students, according to a Email shared by Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Washington).

“At this time, this group is limited to students who identify as BIPOC,” Principal Shannon Ritter wrote in a January email.

“For these students, this space allows them to hang out, check in and talk about their experiences as a minority student as they build community, connections and confidence.”

“It’s basically a safe place for them.”

The club was formed as part of a district-wide mentoring program, a spokesman said told local radio talk show TTH. Centennial Elementary was in the process of developing a similar group for its fourth-graders.

The group was scheduled to meet once a week over lunch. School staff will help facilitate the discussion, the district said, but it will primarily be a student-led group that “emphasizes historically underrepresented populations.”

Centennial Elementary in Olympia, Washington created a BIPOC-only group for its fifth graders.
Centennial Elementary School

But the new club had already created a rift in the community — according to the email, white students barred from the club had expressed interest in joining the new group, prompting organizers to create a coalition counterpart. were considering

Parents and members of the adult community condemned the move, claiming it only hoped to further close the racial divide.

“How can they advance racial justice, as they claim, by creating racial injustice? This whole way of thinking is so backwards and wrong. What is (sic) being kind and treating others with respect.” To do?” parent Denise Frank wrote in one of the hundreds of comments left under Walsh’s initial Facebook post.

“How is it not racism when kids are joining a group based solely on race/skin color?” Rebecca Weisenhaus asked.

“We need to be taught it doesn’t matter if we’re a different color. We have character. We’re Americans. Stop the racial bullshit,” Debbie Gabriel said.

Centennial Elementary changed its BIPOC-only policy Tuesday, about a week after announcing the new group to parents.

Children in a modern school facility
The school rescinded its exclusionary policy to allow all students regardless of race.
Getty Images

“Groups like this are important to raise voices and play a critical role in helping our district create a responsible educational experience that meets the needs of all students.” A spokesperson told KTTH.

“At the same time, we recognize that they cannot be excluded. Going forward, we will ensure that school leadership and staff are specific about the purpose of these groups, as well as participation.” therefore removing any immunity.”

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