Superintendent Responds to Controversial Science Project at C.K. McClatchy High School

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“No student should ever be made to feel that their race has anything to do with their ability to succeed.”

Superintendent Responds to Controversial Science Project at C.K. McClatchy High School

Many of you have heard about the incident at C.K. McClatchy High School involving a science project which made racially insensitive suggestions about our African American, Latino and Southeast Asian students. The incident made national and international headlines and has been trending on social media.

As this matter has caused a lot of anxiety, consternation, and outrage, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar shared this video statement with the community on Saturday to address the incident.

Watch video in Spanish

Text of Superintendent Aguilar’s Statement:

Greetings. This is Jorge Aguilar, Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District.

By now, many of you have heard of an incident at one of our high schools involving a science project which made racially insensitive suggestions about our African American, Latino and Southeast Asian students.

We have already started investigating details around this matter, specifically, whether proper instructional protocols were followed.  I want to make one point very clear as we continue our investigation: the use of racially offensive language in our schools, by anyone, does not reflect our values as a school district and will not be tolerated.

Many students, family members and community members have expressed how upset they are about this issue.  I want you to know that I empathize with your concerns. Yes, we will respect freedom of speech but we will also uphold our duty to limit speech that is likely to cause educational disruptions to our students.  No student should ever be made to feel that their race has anything to do with their ability to succeed.

Sacramento City Unified School District is one of the most diverse school districts in the country. And I take great pride in leading a district that values the diversity and cultural richness that our students bring from the entire world – 43 languages are spoken by our students!

Beyond this matter, I also want to let you know that I intend to conduct a thorough review of all of our specialty programs throughout the district on three levels:

One, have we done everything necessary to ensure that the pool of applicants to our specialty programs reflects the diversity of our student body?

Two, have we done everything necessary to ensure that the selection process to each of our specialty programs is fair and objective?

And, three, have we done everything necessary to ensure that we have created a climate where all students feel welcome in our specialty programs. 

As someone that looks closely at data, I will, for example, review the percentage of students who enter our specialty programs but drop out.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion is very personal to me. I am eternally grateful that someone gave me the opportunity to attend UC Berkeley as a first-generation, low-income student whose test scores weren’t great.  The same is true for my law school experience.  But almost 30 years later, I still have vivid memories of feeling alone in my Con Law and Criminal Law courses with only a handful of other individuals who looked like me.

I expect that my review of our specialty programs, just like the one I led in Fresno Unified involving the Office of Civil Rights, will engender strong feeling on many sides.  But the principle of Equity, Access and Social Justice, which we are solidly committed to in in Sac City Unified, demands that we look closely at the systems that we have designed, including policies, procedures, and traditions, that currently produce the outcomes we see and then boldly make changes to produce better ones for each and every one of our students. This is also what our status as a Safe Haven School District requires.  Our schools must be safe spaces for all students and together we will ensure that all students feel welcomed and valued.

I appreciate your patience while we look into these matters and together we will come out of this stronger.

Thank you.