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Meeting at Las Vegas high school addresses recent racial tensions

Frustration flowed at Arbor View High School on Monday night as parents and students confronted the school’s racial tensions head-on at a meeting, where the school outlined “cultural turnaround process that includes an additional dean and more student outreach.”

The discussion, which the Clark County School District closed to media members, follows last week’s social media threats against black students that paired photographs of students with racial slurs and threats of a school massacre.

Two male students were arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of hate crimes, conspiring to commit terrorism and other charges, while a third was cited for alleged cyberbullying.

Officials noted a plan to move forward at the meeting as parents aired concerns over previous racial issues that had gone unaddressed, according to parents who left the meeting.

One parent even shared how her African-American child was pepper-sprayed by a white student, according to attendees.

Parent Corinne Hankins said she did not know her son was featured in one of the photos spread on social media until Monday, when police called to inform her.

She left the meeting that evening doubtful that the school would take any real steps to fix the problem.

“They talk a lot, but there’s no action,” she said. “And there’s not going to be any action.”

She said she’ll still try to keep her son home from school, though he wants to go.

School police Sgt. Bryan Zink said on Monday night that he had not received any alerts about another potential threat.

Lawanna Calhoun, whose two children graduated from the school, said she was appalled when she heard what had happened. Her kids never experienced racial issues when they attended, she said.

She expressed concern about how the community could move forward when the majority of the attendees were African-American.

“So how are the Caucasian individuals, the Caucasian parents, supposed to understand and hear what the African-American parents are saying and understand where we’re coming from and how we feel about our kids being ridiculed and not being safe?” she said. “You had students in there begging — begging the teachers to give them some more culture, give them some identity, you know, give them some safety. Make them feel like they’re wanted.”

In a statement, the district said the meeting was an “important first step” in discussing a “transformation” at the school.

“Leaders from Arbor View High School and the Clark County School Police Department made it clear tonight they will not tolerate threats against our students or staff,” the statement reads. “Every student and staff member deserves to feel safe on our school campuses. We must continue a dialogue about acceptance and respect throughout our community.”

The turnaround plan will include listening and gathering information from stakeholders and offering training opportunities that align to the needs of both students and staff, the statement reads.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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