BY RICHARD SKOLNIK
As the community has now learned, on October 5 a large number of Los Alamos Middle School (LAMS) football players chanted a racial epithet in the boy’s locker room after the game with the Sante Fe Indian School. (Los Alamos Reporter, October 22).
Such chanting is highly offensive to the values that Los Alamos and the LAPS espouse. Thus, it was heartening to learn that the LAMS Head Football Coach, Pat Brousseau, entered the locker room and addressed what he witnessed with the LAMS players. I was also pleased to learn that the Principal, Jill Gonzales, Vice Principal, Andy Ainsworth, and Coach Brousseau investigated the incident and two days later sent an email to parents of the LAMS team and LAMS staff notifying them of the situation. (Los Alamos Reporter, October 22).
However, despite the seriousness of this matter, the blight it causes to our reputation, and the fact that the news of it had spread throughout the community within days of the event, the Superintendent remained silent on it for 16 days. In addition, even 16 days after the event, the Superintendent’s note to LAPS families spoke in generalities and did not cite measures that he had taken since the event to deal with the critical issues it raised. While I welcome the list of resources the Superintendent shared, I believe there is no excuse for the Superintendent’s failure to indicate to the community specific measures that the LAPS will take now to better help our students learn to treat all people with respect, at all times.
I appreciate that one School Board member, Antonio Jaurigue, published on October 22 a letter to the editor commenting on the October 5 incident. However, his letter raises important questions about how the LAPS and the School Board handle and communicate internally and externally about critical events with large educational, social, and reputational risks to the community. The LAPS should have informed the School Board immediately of the October 5 event. Mr. Jaurige’s letter, however, suggests that the LAPS did not do so.
The priority that people and organizations attach to different matters can be measured by the timeliness and appropriateness of their response to them. I believe that the failure of the Superintendent to inform the community about the October 5 event in a timely and appropriate manner suggests a failure to understand and honor the position he holds. It is also disappointing that nineteen days after the event, we have still not heard formally from the School Board on this issue.