Durham Community Assesses Diversity Efforts Following Racist Bullying Incident

Jan 24, 2018

Parents, school officials, and advocates met to discuss the school district's progress on Wednesday.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

It's been nearly five months since a racist bullying incident shocked the Oyster River School District community.

Parents and school administrators met Wednesday to talk about what's been done in response, and priorities going forward.

It was this past September when a 7-year old black student was bullied with racist language while riding the school bus home. The incident shocked many, including Oyster River Superintendent Jim Morse.

“Part of the issue of the fall was a predominately educated, white community who believed that we were accepting of others. I think we learned that we were lost in our whiteness.”

On Wednesday, Morse listed the efforts taken so far to address diversity in the school district since then.

Those efforts have included 3-hour diversity training for all staff, and a review of the curriculum to better incorporate themes of diversity into the classroom.

“That's our ultimate goal is to make sure that, just like math, the issue of diversity is addressed from the primary grades all the way through to the high school."

Parents of students of color at the meeting praised the district's efforts thus far.

All agreed the focus going forward should be on the recruitment and retention of a more diverse teaching staff.