A community meeting, meant to promote diversity at Saline Area Schools in Michigan, ended in tension after a parent yelled out racist comments.
The meeting was held after “offensive and inappropriate racist comments using derogatory terms about African Americans” were posted on social media by Saline High School students, according to the school district.
Adrian Iraola, a retired architectural engineer and Mexican immigrant, decided to share some of his family’s experiences to highlight the history of the problem. He decided to explain some of the racial discrimination experienced by his adult children when they were in Saline schools.
“I remember when I went to [my son’s] bedroom to say goodnight and he was crying because of the abuse that he was enduring in this school system.”
Suddenly, a man can be heard in the background of a video of the meeting: “Then why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”
The crowd loudly gasped at the man’s question, and some called for him to leave.
Iraola responded to the man that he has stayed in the United States because it is “the greatest country in the world.”
“I felt the outrage,” Iraola told CNN, “but my heart, my heart was immediately hurt and the wounds reopened because of what I had experienced with my own children. It just reopened old wounds instantly.”
Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden acknowledged that the school district has more work to do in educating students, staff and the community about racism, hate and prejudice.
“This type of bigotry goes against all of the values and beliefs of our school system,” Graden said in a statement sent Tuesday via twitter.
“Over the past several years, we have established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, worked with our local intermediate school district to train teachers and administrators on social justice practices, and taken a number of steps to support a more culturally inclusive curriculum in our school district,” he said.
Iraola said that there is a lot of work to be done. The Saline Area Schools have been forced to act and to implement education of the educators, he added.