SAU No. 5
Superintendent James Morse
36 Coe Drive
Durham, NH 03824
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Oyster River Cooperative School District Responds to Incidents of Racism
Elementary School Student Assaulted on Bus, Inappropriate Comments Made at Middle School
DURHAM — Oyster River Cooperative School District Superintendent James Morse reports that the school district is responding strongly after an elementary school student was a victim of a racial incident on a school bus at the start of the school year.
On Friday, Sept. 1, while on the afternoon bus, it was reported that a male student was taunted by another boy using racial comments. The aggressor allegedly made racist comments about the victim and made unwanted physical contact.
The incident was reported to the school principal who immediately began an investigation. Disciplinary measures have been taken, and the incident was referred to the Durham Police Department to conduct its own investigation of the facts and circumstances.
In addition, racial jokes were reported at the middle school. The issue was reported to the principal who conducted an investigation and implemented appropriate disciplinary action.
“These issues have given me significant pause,” Superintendent Morse said. “There is no room for racism, sexism, homophobia, or antisemitism in our schools. Incidents like this cannot simply be fixed with punishments. We need to look at how we treat each other and how we expect others to treat us as members of the same human community.”
Superintendent Morse has been in contact with the NAACP, the University of New Hampshire Office of Community, Equity and Diversity and the State of New Hampshire’s Office of Disproportionate Minority Contact for guidance on how to move forward from these incidents and prevent similar such acts from occurring.
A multicultural forum is being planned, which will be emceed by Andrew C. Smith, the Coordinator of State of New Hampshire’s Office of Disproportionate Minority Contact. Details will be released as they become finalized, and all are welcome.
The school district is also reviewing its policies on discrimination and student conduct and will implement changes as necessary. Superintendent Morse will also announce additional programs and events on culture, diversity, and respect throughout the school year.
“In the interest of transparency, we are bringing this information forward now to let the community know that these incidents did occur, and we are responding directly, and we are now taking actions to address the root cause of these types of acts,” Superintendent Morse said. “The health, safety, and well-being of our students comes first. There is no place for intolerance in Oyster River.”