Hate speech found on wall at Liberty HS


The Olentangy Local School District and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office are investigating hate speech found written on a restroom wall this week at Liberty High School.

The message read: “N****** … Death to all n****** and n***** lovers.”

According to Olentangy Local officials, the message was discovered sometime Tuesday. The message was removed.

The Gazette received an email at 9:57 p.m. Tuesday from an individual who photographed the message before it was removed from the wall. The person who sent the email included the following message: “This is the latest publication on a restroom wall at Olentangy Liberty High School on Tuesday.”

The sheriff’s student resource officer at Liberty is working with school officials on the investigation.

The school district issued a press release addressing the incident on Wednesday.

“Olentangy Local Schools unequivocally denounces hate speech in all its forms and prides itself on the work it does to embrace diversity and ensure a safe school environment,” said Krista Davis, Olentangy’s communications director.

But this is not the first time the district has had to deal with racial issues.

Parent Kelly Livingston addressed the board of education concerning race-related incidents during its Sept. 29 and Oct. 11 meetings last year.

Livingston, who is black, said her son, a senior at the time, was bullied on multiple occasions. That included “spray-painted defamatory statements” about him at three different locations at Olentangy High School.

She said one student sent the following statement to her son online: “Your skin color automatically puts you at the bottom of the caste system.”

Her other son, a sophomore in college at the time, experienced similar issues when he attended Olentangy, she said.

Davis said Olentangy Local Schools is home to “a unique and proactive effort” to address diversity-related issues.

Olentangy Local is among the few Ohio school districts to have an Equity and Inclusion Program, founded in 2012. It stresses the ideal that the diverse talents, skills and experiences of all students and families are encouraged, supported, and respected.

“We are proud to provide a structural and systemic approach to equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the District that maintains programming for students, staff and the community,” Davis said.

In addition to placing diversity liaisons in every school building in the district, the district’s Equity and Inclusion efforts include the following programming: building student groups, administrator training, professional development opportunities for all staff, an annual equity and inclusion conference, a diversity committee and a classified leadership and culture committee.

However, Livingston said working full-time prevented her from joining the diversity committee. But she believed it would not have been effective anyway.

“I didn’t want to be part of a dog and pony show because I feel, based upon my history with the district, I had such substantial doubts the diversity committee would have the power or authority to effect or impact any change,” Livingston said.

Davis said there is no known connection between this week’s incident and the incidents Livingston detailed to the board.

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By Brandon Klein

bklein@delgazette.com

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.