Upset parent speaks out about racial slur on daughter's yearbook

Posted at 8:09 PM, Jun 07, 2017

RANCHO PENASQUITOS, Calif. (KGTV) - A San Diego-area parent is outraged over a racial slur that was printed on his daughter's Black Mountain Middle School Yearbook.

The dad who emailed San Diego-based KGTV said he is not happy the school scratched the racial slur off the yearbook in an attempt to fix the problem and he wants them to do more.

As for the school, they are meeting with a community organization to try to turn this situation into a learning opportunity.

"There's a little bit of some scratch marks on it where they tried to remove the derogatory racial term," said concerned parent, Deonte Holloman, as he described his 7th-grade daughter's yearbook.

RELATED: Racist term appears on Rancho Peñasquitos yearbook cover

He said he picked it up Wednesday morning, a day after 8th graders received their yearbook and noticed a racial slur that had been printed on it.

"I feel sad. She should be able to take her yearbook in and have her friends sign on her picture," said Holloman.

He said his daughter took a small notebook to school for her friends to sign instead.

Black Mountain Middle School printed a historical map from the 1800s on this year's cover. The map referred to an area of San Diego County, once known as the home of freed slave, Nate Harrison, using a derogatory term.

"To have our kids in the school right now with this book, with this racial derogatory word on it, it's hurting children," said Holloman.

The school has since recalled the books and scratched off the racial slur.

"This is not a momentary scratch," said Holloman, "this scratch is forever. It's history."

Holloman addressed the issue with Black Mountain Middle's principal, who apologized for the mistake.

Holloman said it is not enough.

"I would have like to have seen them reprint this cover, put out a letter to the parents explaining, 'We've made this mistake, our oversight failed,'" he said.

KGTV asked the Poway Unified School District if they will be reprinting the yearbooks. They sent us this statement:

"No, the yearbooks are not being reprinted. The cost to reprint the books with Jostens would have been $36,000 and the students would not have been able to get their yearbooks in time by the end of the year. We realized how important it was to our students to get their yearbooks ASAP, so removing the word from the cover was the best solution... The school will be reviewing procedures when it comes to editing the yearbook."

In an effort to engage parents and students, school officials also met with Rev. Shane Harris, president of the local National Action Network. Rev. Harris said they plan on turning this into a learning opportunity.

"Let's have a forum and discussion and educate our community. Educate ourselves with just about who Nate Harrison was," said Harris.

Harris said during the meeting, they talked about possibly starting a scholarship named after Nate Harrison, and taking students on a field trip to Palomar Mountain to learn its history.

Poway Unified sent KGTV this statement regarding the meeting:

We had a very productive meeting with Mr. Harris.

Throughout the school year, the Black Mountain staff has been making a dedicated effort toward cultural understanding and the impact on instruction.

In our conversations with Mr. Harris, other community members, and our parents, we discussed how this event and the ongoing work of the school present an excellent opportunity to further engage our parents and students in this important work.

Holloman agrees that continued dialogue is necessary.

"If we want to raise our children to be decent, kind, responsible people who take over, on our behalf, we have to teach them to be aware of people's suffering," he said.

Holloman is in communication with Poway Unified School District. They are working together to address his concerns. He said he plans on attending the next school board meeting.

Rev. Harris said NAN and school officials are planning to meet next week to schedule a date for a forum.