California Parents Protest After Slurs Spray-Painted on School for Third Time This Year

Racist and homophobic graffiti spray-painted on the side of a San Diego area high school has sparked community uproar over the district's response.

The incident occurred on New Year's Day at San Dieguito Academy High School in Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. Roughly 150 people including students, parents and others gathered at the high school Monday to protest against the incident, which is at least the third of its kind the San Dieguito Union High School District has seen over the current school year.

"We must be united against hate speech and prevent it from being normalized," Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said on Twitter Monday.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, reports KSWB-TV. The department did not respond to questions submitted by Newsweek on Tuesday.

Monday's event drew local social justice groups including the North San Diego County NAACP, reports KNSD-TV.

Robert Jenkins, the chapter's vice-president, told KNSD-TV that the administration hasn't been adequately responsive to community concerns.

"Too many times they let the administration know what's going on, they let the teachers know, and nothing is being done, so we hope as an organization and a community that we can come in and support as much as we can to make sure that we have some significant changes going on," said Jenkins.

High School Hall Ways
A San Diego area high school has been the source of community uproar after racist and homophobic slurs were spray painted on its walls, the third incident of its kind during the current school year. Getty Images

But Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward told the Union-Tribune that the district has launched multiple efforts aimed at making schools more inclusive and hired a new position to look into complaints of racism.

"We know there's a problem, but we are working to address it," she told the paper. "We know we won't change overnight, but we are on the road and will continue on this road."

Tasha Williamson, a local community activist, called attention to the graffiti on Twitter on New Year's Day.

"San Diego County has not changed!" she wrote. "Our kids are going back to school in Encinitas where racial and LGBTQ hate trauma exist."

The district has an enrollment of 13,000, about 40 percent of which are students of color, according to state numbers.

California has seen hate crimes increase 31 percent, up from 1,015 in 2019 to 1,330 in 2020, according to an annual report from the state's attorney general. Hate crimes involving racial bias increased 67.3 percent from 523 in 2019 to 875 in 2020. The majority of race-based hate crimes have been directed against Black people, according to the report.