BY ANTONIO R. JAURIGUE
Los Alamos School Board Member
I was shocked to hear about the recent incident where members of the Los Alamos Middle School football team chanted a racist epithet directed at their Santa Fe Indian School opponents following a game. Since I heard about it, I have been struggling to gather information, make sense of the District response and figure how I could have better responded as a school board member.
First, I should have been more forceful in my questioning. When I was given an answer, I should have followed up to ensure clarity. Second, communication about the incident was poor, meaning that most people heard rumors first, including me. As the rumors continued, I still received no further information from the District as only the families of the students involved and the school staff received an email about the incident.
Before I was notified by the District, LAMS administration had already taken disciplinary action. I am still unclear about that action and the parties involved.
Since then, I have been contacted by many caring and active community members, parents, and staff asking for clarification on what had happened and why the public had not been informed. I would understand if the people who contacted me felt my responses were empty or lacked authenticity because there was little done to communicate with the public after those conversations. I have been pushing hard for the District to make a public statement and I became impatient, which is why I am writing now.
I condemn the racist remarks spoken by our students. The entire community should be aware that this mentality exists, but that the District does not accept this behavior, and our community is not like this. I truly believe the students involved aren’t like this but that this was a lapse in judgment and can be used as an opportunity for growth and education about diversity and inclusion. This is not to absolve them of punishment or excuse their behavior, but to express that I deeply want meaningful growth within the students in our schools. By being transparent, there is an understanding of mutual respect and value between the bodies trusted with authority and the community.
This isn’t something that only parents deserve reassurance on, or minority groups, but the entire community deserves to know we take these acts seriously even though it may not appear that way right now.
I’ve heard the stories from the past about the District not putting the “LAPS” on our buses because our reputation attracted vandalism. I refuse to let our District slip back to that ugly situation. Our students, parents, and community are better than that.
Again, I apologize and I promise to do what I can in the future to make sure our community is kept better informed.