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Grand Haven: Feds Investigate Racial Intimidation, Students Disciplined

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A federal investigation is taking place after reports of racial intimidation in a local school district.

Since fall 2012, Grand Haven Public Schools’ superintendent said five incidents have been reported and a group of students were disciplined.

However, the Ottawa County Sheriff`s Department and the US Department of Education are conducting their own investigations.

Superintendent Keith Konarska said the district has confirmed three of those incidents. Some occurred on schools grounds and others on the school bus.

Konarska said one involved a student wearing a hat with the letters KKK written on it. Another incident involved a student writing the n-word on a school bus window.

FOX 17 spoke with the father of the bi-racial student who reported the complaints. He said his daughter has been the target of sexist and racist remarks, with students allegedly talking about her hair, skin and calling her the n-word.

The superintendant said this is something the district is taking extremely seriously.

“This is absolutely unacceptable in our district and our expectations for our students are much greater,” Konarska said in a phone interview.

“Our hope is that moving forward, everybody involved in this incident can become more understanding, accepting and tolerant of differences and appreciate the benefits of being a part of a diverse world,” he added.

The superintendent said he hopes students can learn from this incident, from a disciplinary standpoint and an educational one.

The district partners with “Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance.” The organization provides training for staff and students that Konarska hopes will help everyone celebrate diversity in the community.

FOX 17 will continue to follow this story.

9 comments

  • anonymous

    This isn’t the first time this has happened in Grand Haven. It wasn’t long ago that someone was writing on walls with racial slurs. Grand Haven better get in front of this issue and resolve the divide in the community and not sweep it under the rug.

  • babayaga

    I live in this community and have for just over 10 years. I have lived in many places and have never lived in a community that was so closed minded and racist. These incidents at the High School come as no surprise to me. What surprises me is that it hasn't happened before now, but maybe it has. Grand Haven is very good at hiding their outdated, closed minded attitudes. After all, they need the tourists! The Diversity Alliance is desperately needed. This place feels like 1960's pre-civil rights movement. Let's get caught up with the times people! Let's embrace ALL colors and ethnicities.

  • Ron

    Sickened and surprised. I know Grand Haven is PODUNK – but even this surprises me. Students were disciplined? Hopefully that was nothing short of full expulsion.

  • anonymous

    I recall a story of a student that committed suicide due in part to being bullied in that school. What was the steps put in place after that incident?

  • Charles

    As distasteful as the KKK idea is, it is protected under the rights of Free Speech. That being said, what is NOT protected under Free Speech is the harassment….or is it? Not sure. From what I understand, people should be allowed to say what's on their mind, no matter how distasteful it seems. You and I may not agree with what is said, but it is America where Free Speech is critically important. And our country's ideals are based on that among other rights.

    We may feel it's morally wrong to say such things, but we do have Constitutional Rights guaranteeing specific freedoms.

  • anonymous

    Grand Haven is a mess and nothing will happen. Just another problem in the community that will go away. Corruption is deep rooted in Grand Haven!

  • Man

    There are many things that need to be taught in school that parents don't or won't talk about at home. Then we wonder why? This is just one thing!

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