Lake Oswego High School addresses racist graffiti

Students erased as much of the graffiti as they could

Graffiti found in a bathroom at Lake Owsego High School on March 1, 2017. (Courtesy photo)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (KOIN) — Racist graffiti was found in several bathrooms at Lake Oswego High School on March 1, school officials confirmed.

Students erased as much of the graffiti as they could, and reported what they saw to the Principal Rollin Dickinson, so the rest could be cleaned up.

Jerome Brooks has 2 sons who attend Lake Oswego schools and feels the district needs to address the issues of racism in the schools. (KOIN)Jerome Brooks has 2 sons who attend Lake Oswego schools and feels the district needs to address the issues of racism in the schools. (KOIN)
Jerome Brooks has 2 sons who attend Lake Oswego schools and feels the district needs to address the issues of racism in the schools. (KOIN)

One parent is calling for “swift and deliberate action” for what he says in an ongoing problem at his son’s high school. He wants the administration to find out who did this and expel them.

“How else are they going to learn?,” Jerome Brooks said. “How else are you really going to get the message across?”

This was the second instance of racist language in the LOHS community this school year. In November, someone wrote on a Class of 2017 Facebook group suggesting a “Ku Klux Klub” where they would invite black students and sacrifice them.

“It’s concerning. It’s insulting. It’s maddening,” Brooks told KOIN. Brooks learned about the graffiti Thursday morning and immediately pulled his son out of school for the day.

Brooks has 2 sons, one attends Lakeridge High School and the other attends Lake Oswego High School. He said the African-American population in Lake Oswego schools is very small.

The Lake Oswego High School student newspaper, Lake Views, wrote about both incidents. The newspaper said after the earlier issue, the school has had “Laker Seminars” to discuss racism in their community. This second incident leaves student writer Camryn Leland wondering what those seminars have accomplished. She wrote:

The question now – what have these seminars truly accomplished? Has it created a space for students to explore a once taboo topic? Has it created a space in which students can further with the ‘jokes’ such as this recent incident?

In a letter sent to students this week, Dickinson said:

“I think we all know a few meaningful conversations about race won’t eradicate racism, and they won’t prevent all racist acts designed to shock or intimidate or sow fear.  But I do believe culture can be taught and that people need practice and that we are all capable of great growth.”

Student body president Keon Feldsien addressed the school Thursday saying things like this are why they have those seminars. A transcript of that speech was provided to KOIN 6 News.

“Many of us, as students and faculty in a predominately white school,  have the convenience of thinking about race only when we want to,” Feldsien said. “But for others, words like these are a daily message, one that threatens and isolates. This graffiti is not funny, it is not daring or edgy, it is wrong. Everyone listen carefully. Every person has a place here at LOHS and everyone has the right to feel welcomed and safe.”

Brooks applauds Dickinson, who is new to the school this year, and his efforts so far, but wants him to do more.

“You have to really challenge these students and their families to have conversations around poverty, institutionalized racism,” Brooks said.

Lake Oswego High School, as seen on Google Street View, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)
Lake Oswego High School, as seen on Google Street View, November 18, 2016 (KOIN)