A group of students at Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead have been displaying confederate flags on their trucks parked in the school parking lot. The students have also been bullying minorities, according to a parent.
Running Springs resident Jennifer Celise-Reyes, whose daughter is a freshman at the school, told the Sun that the school “has been inundated by hate speech, bullying and intimidation by a group of white male students, many of whom are on the wrestling team.”
She also shared emails that she had sent to the school:
“California, along with other states, has declared that the Confederate flag is being used by racist hate groups to represent white supremacy. This hate speech is not protected under the First Amendment and will not be tolerated or protected in our public schools.”
“Racial slurs, including ‘white power,’ are being yelled at minorities. These students are writing ‘WP’ on their chests and raising their shirts at minorities.”
School board president Cindy Gardner told Celise-Reyes that officials are working closely, and daily, with the school district’s attorneys for legal counsel on the matter.
“The matter is being taken very seriously and being handled at this time in accordance with the counsel given by our attorneys,” Gardner said in her e-mail response to Celise-Reyes.
The Sun noted that on Friday, two Ford pickups, each had a Confederate flag and an American flag displayed in the bed of each truck. One of the trucks also had stickers from Patriot Alliance, the National Rifle Association, and Donald Trump campaign signs.
School Board Trustee Scott Markovich believes the flags should not be allowed in the parking lot.
“I am taking a stand as a representative [of our schools] that this is unacceptable,” Markovich told Mountain News. “This does not make a good statement about Rim; we are a declining enrollment school, and this is not a positive thing for our District.” He added, “I am very concerned, and I understand the First Amendments rights but I think this needs to be addressed and resolved.”
Lawrence King, assistant superintendent of personnel/pupil services for Rim of the World Unified School District, issued a statement on Friday that said “student safety and welfare remains the District’s highest priority.”
“We are working expeditiously by immediately responding to parent and student concerns that are brought forward. Additionally, the Sheriff’s department has been made aware of this situation and we will provide them with any information that they may request.”