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Parent fights alleged racism in Colorado Springs classroom

By Emily Allen, Multimedia Journalist /Target 13 Investigator , emily.allen@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:42:15 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 06 2013 06:26:46 PM CST

A 6-year-old's mom spoke out Tuesday after she says her daughter was singled out because of her skin color in her first-grade classroom.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A 6-year-old's mom spoke out Tuesday after she says her daughter was singled out because of her skin color in her first-grade classroom.

The incident happened at Penrose Elementary School.  Pamela Gleeton said it was a school story no parent wants to hear.

"My little girl had come to me Thursday evening and had stated that a little girl didn't want to play with her because she was too black," said Gleeton.

Gleeton's daughter, Adriene, and the other girl had a history of not getting along. However, Gleeton said this was the first time race came into play.  Gleeton tried to talk to Adriene's teacher about the incident.

"When I said 'black,' it was over. I mean, [the teacher said], 'absolutely, absolutely not,'" said Gleeton.

Gleeton said it's hard to predict what children say. She was understanding that sometimes children make inappropriate comments, but disappointed in the teacher's actions moving forward.

"[The teacher] then proceeded to take my little girl and [the other girl] into the hallway and she just lays into my little girl, and 'Why did you tell your mom this story?' and on and on and on," said Gleeton. 

"The teacher goes back into the room and segregates my daughter, puts her by herself, secludes her, and the other children go on with their activities in their groups."

The teacher sent Gleeton an email that stated, "I will make it a point to not have these two girls interact at all while here in school."

Gleeton said it wasn't the solution she wanted out of this situation.  After getting word of the incident, District 11 called Gleeton and apologized.  It said would look into the situation.

"District 11 has very strong anti-discrimination policies set in place so obviously there is no tolerance for any type of discrimination against student, staff or visitor that comes into our schools," said District 11 spokesperson Devra Ashby.

Gleeton said the principal told her the teacher mishandled the situation because she hadn't had to deal with racism in the classroom before. Ashby said racism isn't something teachers have to deal with as much as they did in the past. However, she said the district has policies indicating discrimination in schools isn't tolerated.

Gleeton said it's been a tough year academically for Adriene and her grades have slipped. Now she's wondering if there is more behind her daughter's difficulties in the classroom.

"Kids have to play and learn.  So my daughter has been kind of not too good this year.  But it didn't dawn on me until this happened," said Gleeton.

She was happy to hear the school district would be looking into the issue. Unfortunately, it's too late for her daughter, who transferred to a new school Monday.

"The damage is done, the damage is done. This is the first platform, the first level of bullyism.  The children already know what happened, its too late now," said Gleeton.

The district offered to set up a meeting for Gleeton, the Penrose principal and Adriene's first-grade teacher. 

"I corrected my end, I think District 11 can correct their end," said Gleeton.

Gleeton shared her daughter's story in the hopes that it will prevent other situations like this from happening.

District-11 provided links to their policies for those interested in reviewing them.

Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity:

http://www.d11.org/BOE/Policies/Board%20Policy%20Section%20A/AC.pdf

Employee Discrimination/Harassment Reporting and Investigation Procedures:

http://www.d11.org/BOE/Policies/Board%20Policy%20Section%20A/AC-R.pdf

Sexual and Racial Harassment/Discrimination Toward Students:

http://www.d11.org/BOE/Policies/SectionJ/JBB.pdf

Sexual and Racial Harassment/Discrimination Towards Students Reporting and Investigation Procedures:

http://www.d11.org/BOE/Policies/SectionJ/JBB-R.pdf

Bullying Prevention and Education:

http://www.d11.org/BOE/Policies/SectionJ/JICDE.pdf

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