The Wessex Wire

The Student News Site of West Essex Regional High School

The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

Legal action threatened over claims of racism in district

Two different media outlets reported in late September that a number of West Essex parents are planning to file lawsuits against the school district, alleging racial discrimination against their children.

News12 New Jersey reported on Sept. 21 that some parents of West Essex students are planning to take legal action against the district, claiming that their children were harassed and discriminated against. The report included a portion of a popular TikTok video made by a former West Essex student, showing racially derogatory photos she claims were sent to her anonymously. News12 New Jersey’s report included images of a Snapchat of students allegedly mocking the George Floyd tragedy and a picture of a Black man being chased by members of the Ku Klux Klan digitally added to a video game screen. 

One parent told News12 New Jersey that a teacher called her child a “monkey” while running in the hallway, claiming that the phrase “Not my circus, not my monkeys” was directed toward her child. The video report said that in a formal harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) report, the teacher claims the comment was not directed at any individual student but was “self-talk.”

The report from News12 New Jersey included a written statement from district Superintendent Damion Macioci.

“As a school community, we remain committed to ensuring the health and well-being of students, which includes creating an inclusive and welcoming school climate,” Macioci said in the statement to News12 New Jersey, noting that all allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying are investigated.

The Progress newspaper published a separate article on Sept. 26, also reporting that parents and students alleged racial discrimination while the students attended West Essex at the high school and middle school. The Progress published more details of the same TikTok video referenced by News12 New Jersey, which was posted in April 2022. 

Both reports indicate that parents have filed formal harassment, intimidation and bullying reports, but that parents were unsatisfied with the district’s response. 

Shortly after the first story, on Sept. 22, Macioci sent an email statement to the West Essex community, acknowledging the News12 New Jersey news story with allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying in the district. 

“ ‘HIB’ complaints are treated very seriously by the Board, the administration and the entire staff as a part of the district’s commitment to ensuring a safe and healthy educational environment for all students,” Macioci said in the statement. “We will continue to reinforce the district’s policies in our ongoing dedication to our students and their families.”

Behind the Byline
Eliana Rosen
Eliana Rosen, Editor in Chief
Eliana Rosen is an Editor in Chief of the 2023-2024 Wessex Wire. When she isn’t spending time with friends and family, she is probably listening to Taylor Swift and Noah Kahan on repeat. She spends her summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, her home away from home.   
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