By SCOTT JACKSON
Students from Quincy’s two high schools walked out of class on Nov. 12 to protest racism, hate speech and injustice.
The protest came on the heels of an altercation involving two Quincy High School students, one of whom allegedly made a video containing hate speech. School officials say both students involved are facing discipline.
Quincy High School students left the building around 9:30 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 12. They first walked to City Hall and then to North Quincy High School, where they were met by students from that school who joined the protest. Some of the students then returned to Quincy High School while others returned home.
During the protest, the students could be heard chanting, “no justice, no peace.” Many of the students also carried signs during the protest.
Earlier last week, some students at Quincy High School had received a cellphone video showing a student using a racial slur and expressing hatred of Black people, according to published reports.
On Nov. 9, a student confronted the student who allegedly created the video and a physical altercation ensued. A video of that altercation, which was broken up by adults, has also circulated among students.
Supt. Kevin Mulvey, in a letter released following the Nov. 12 protest, said both students involved in that altercation were facing discipline, though some students had stated only one of the two were punished.
“One factor in today’s student action is misinformation that is circulating online that only the student who initiated Tuesday’s altercation at Quincy High School is being held accountable through disciplinary actions,” Mulvey wrote on Nov. 12. “While the specifics cannot be shared, there are serious long-term consequences for the student who created the video.”
In a separate letter sent on Nov. 14, Mulvey said the district was taking students’ and parents’ concerns about racism seriously.
“Please be assured that the district has heard and acknowledges the concerns of students and families regarding systemic racism within our school community and is taking steps to address them as quickly and comprehensively as possible,” he wrote.
Students were planning another walk out on Monday, Mulvey wrote, but he said the district would not allow them to do so because they would be missing out on time in the classroom.
“While the district recognizes the importance of student protest, particularly when it addresses serious concerns about racism within our school community, we cannot continue to have students leave school and miss valuable educational time,” Mulvey said.
“Therefore, please be advised that students are not permitted to leave their school buildings without being dismissed by a parent or guardian. If students do choose to leave their school buildings they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and meet with the principal to return to school that day. As with any absence, if students leave school and do not return, they will be held responsible for assignments not completed during the class periods they do not attend.”
“It is critically important that we as a community are unified in our effort to use our educational resources to end racism,” the superintendent added. “This must be a collaborative approach and making sure that our students attend and remain in school is an important part of this collaboration.
“We ask that you encourage your students to seek out trusted adults at school (for example, teachers, guidance staff, deans, coaches, or administrators) to share their experiences and concerns.”
In response to the incident at Quincy High School, the district held a virtual forum for parents and guardians the afternoon of Nov. 12. An in-person forum is scheduled for Monday evening at Quincy High School starting at 5 p.m. Both those forums were scheduled prior to the walkout on Nov. 12.
Also over the weekend, Point Webster Middle School Principal Christine Barrett said she was notified on Nov. 12 about a video recording involving three eighth grade students “that contained racist language directed at specific students at Point Webster Middle School.”
“The video has been shared within the school community and is very disturbing to all of us,” Barrett wrote in an open letter. “The student who was recorded using the targeted racist language is subject to serious disciplinary consequences for their actions.”
Barrett said some students at Point Webster had been planning a walk out of their own for Monday but said students would not be allowed to leave the building because of their age.
“Given the age of our students, I am concerned about student safety. Therefore, students will not be permitted to leave the building,” Barrett wrote.
“Please be advised that we will offer students a safe space within their classrooms to have the opportunity to share their concerns and let their voices be heard by teachers, administrators, and student support staff.”