FREMONT, Calif.. (KTVU) - The Fremont Unified School District is combating claims of rampant racism made by a junior high school student.
13-year-old Israel Howard says his second year at Thornton Junior High School has been a nightmare. He claims daily racist taunts and name calling by a group of school students which hasn't stopped.
The breaking point came a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
"People call me all kinds of names— all racist names and then I try to tell the office and they just sent me out calling me the bad guy," he said.
So, Howard handled his frustrations the best way he knew how— penning a three-page letter to school officials, describing the insults, which include: "You need to go back to the cornfields, slave." "He's got new shoes; you now his black (expletive) stole them." "Look at his hair, looks like a microphone."
In the letter he writes, "I am alone to face this harassment. The vice principal let's people call me black piece of (expletive).
"We found the letter very disturbing and disheartening," said Dr. Jim Morris, the school district superintendent.
Morris emphatically says racism isn't tolerated in the district, or school, which has only 3-percent black students. He says the district was notified of this letter November 10, met with the student's family on the 14th, and had a support plan in place that same day.
"The message the student wrote resonated with so many people and said, we really need to address this and take it seriously. If one of our students is feeling this way, it's something we have to pay attention to," Morris said.
Superintendent Morris won't say how the offending students were disciplined, but does say Israel meets with a teacher-mentor twice a week, and has a school counselor he can talk to about ongoing issues. But that hasn't quieted the concerns of the boy's father.
"It's not really a plan. It’s just more of the school trying to deny. Deny accountability and nothing is really getting done," said Demetrius Howard.
Although unhappy with the district's handling of this controversy, he is proud his son is learning to stand on his own two feet. He says Wednesday; the San Francisco Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights is filing a complaint with the state Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on his son's behalf.