Following a viral video of Royal Oak students chanting “build the wall” during their school lunch hour on Wednesday, the superintendent of Birmingham Public Schools has sent out an e-mail asking for a “return to civil discourse.”
In an e-mail blast sent Thursday afternoon, Dr. Daniel Nerad asks for the community’s support in helping to create a positive narrative on the election results.
“As a school district, we are also witnessing many discussions in our hallways and in our classrooms regarding the local and presidential election results,” Nerad wrote. “This was a particularly contentious campaign cycle, with words and actions that, arguably, our youngest students should not have witnessed. The tone and tenor of this election season has been of great concern to me and my greatest hope is we now return to civil discourse as we think about our issues that lie ahead of us.”
Moving forward, Nerad said the district staff will continue to model kindness and respect for differing political views. In addition, he offered the following guidelines for families to consider:
- Allow children to voice their opinions about issues in the country. It is important that they have that safe space to discuss their feelings.
- Adults need to model positive behavior, “as we all know that children are looking to us for direction.”
Throughout his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump promised voters he planned to build “a great wall” between the United States and Mexico to help prevent people from illegally entering the country. The rallying cry, “Build the wall!” was heard at a number of his campaign events.
Dee Perez-Scott, who describes herself as an “Immigration Blogger,” posted on Facebook an eight-second video of a vocal group of students at Royal Oak Middle School repeating the wall chant during their lunch hour.
“This happened today at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak Michigan,” Perez-Scott wrote. “It is so sad. Latino children were crying. The taunts, the "Build that Wall" with such bullying power and hate from children to children. Just Horrifying!"
Perez-Scott said a friend of her niece’s daughter, a student at Royal Oak Middle School, is the one who videotaped the chanting on her smartphone. The video has since gone viral, with over 4.3 million views as of Thursday.
“My niece’s daughter was one of the victims,” he said. “She was crying all yesterday afternoon.”
At the same time, Perez-Scott said she was pleased the school principal posted a video Thursday on YouTube that condemns the actions of the students.
“Hopefully this will still the bullying at the school from now on,” Perez-Scott said. “Only time will tell.”
Marcia Wilkinson, district spokesperson for Birmingham Public Schools, said she wasn’t aware of similar incidents being reported at any schools in Birmingham.
“But there have been plenty of conversations,” she said. “Parents have reached out to us and have asked how we’re going to handle any discussions relating to the election.”
Wilkinson added that Nerad was already planning to send out the email blast prior to the incident in Royal Oak.
A viral video of Royal Oak Middle School students shouting "build the wall" during a lunch hour Monday has sparked outrage across social media, leading some to demand that district officials take action.