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Tempe Union High School District

Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Superintendent's Letter to Parents

Updated January 25, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.

Dear Tempe Union Families,

By now you have likely seen the news reports about an incident at Desert Vista involving a photo taken Friday morning of six students spelling out a racial slur.  We are appalled and disappointed, and behavior such as this will not be tolerated. 

Words matter and the word that was used in the photograph is vulgar and vicious.  It has no place in our schools or our society—regardless of the intent.

As soon as administration became aware the photo existed, an investigation began immediately in accordance with District policies, due process rights and the Student Handbook. There have been numerous reports about punishment; and while we cannot give specifics about the discipline, we can assure you those reports are inaccurate.  Tempe Union has a discipline process and it is ongoing.

Social media has made this an international news story.   This has led to vicious and vulgar messages toward Desert Vista's student body and staff as well as the entire Tempe Union High School District.  Just as unacceptable as the racial slur that was photographed on Friday, the vitriol and hate directed at Desert Vista and Tempe Union are equally disgusting and have no place in society.   

The action of these students is bringing calls from citizens of every color and ethnicity for greater acceptance of our differences.  We are working with students, parents and staff, as well as community leaders and organizations, to heal and learn from this. A Desert Vista teacher referred to her students as "adults-in-training." It takes all of us to guide them.

Please understand we take this very seriously. Please trust in the process. And please know the safety and well-being of all students is at the heart of all we do as we work tirelessly to prepare them for college, career and life.

Sincerely,

Kenneth R. Baca

Superintendent


 
January 23, 2016

Dear Tempe Union Families,

By now you have likely seen the news reports about an incident at Desert Vista involving a photo taken Friday morning of six students spelling out a racial slur.

We are appalled and disappointed at this behavior and it will not be tolerated. It is unacceptable for any racial slur to be used regardless of intent. We need to understand that words matter.

As soon as administration became aware the photo existed, an investigation began immediately in accordance with District policies, due process rights and the Student Handbook. There have been numerous reports about punishment and while we cannot give specifics about the discipline, we can assure you those reports are inaccurate. We have a discipline process and it is ongoing.

Social media has made this an international news story which has led to the spewing of vicious and vulgar hatred toward not only the six teenagers involved in this incident, but also to Desert Vista's student body and staff, and the entire Tempe Union High School District. We are working with students, parents and staff, as well as community leaders and organizations, to heal and learn from this. A Desert Vista teacher referred to her students as "adults-in-training." It takes all of us to guide them.

Please understand we take this very seriously. Please trust in the process. And please know the safety and well-being of all students is at the heart of all we do as we work tirelessly to prepare them for college, career and life.

Sincerely,

Kenneth R. Baca

Superintendent


 

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