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Petrova Middle School grapples with "hate" (Photo:  School website)
Petrova Middle School grapples with "hate" (Photo: School website)

Saranac Lake school grapples with racial bullying case

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Administrators and school board officials in Saranac Lake are apologizing after it was disclosed that a young girl was the subject of a bullying campaign by other students that apparently went on for more than a year. The 12-year-old girl was harassed in part because of her race. Brian Mann reports.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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On June 21st a 12-year-old girl left her backpack outside the Petrova Middle School. Other children allegedly vandalized the pack and then used her deodorant stick to write a racial slur, including the n-word, on a wall. According to a report published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise newspaper, more than a week passed before school officials cleaned off the graffiti. They still haven't identified or punished the alleged perpetrators.

In a letter sent this week to the Enterprise and published on the district website, school board president Deborah Lennon and Superintendent Gerald Goldman acknowledged that they "appeared indifferent, and for this we are deeply sorry." According to Lennon, the district has launched a review of policies designed to stop bullying and harassment.

The case was first reported July 2nd in the Plattsburgh Press Republican. According to the newspaper, other kids allegedly began the bulling campaign more than a year ago, including a MySpace page that mocked the girl for her dark skin and urged her to commit suicide. The case was the subject of debate this week at the Saranac Lake school board meeting. This girl's mother, Amy Oliveras, also reported the harassment to Saranac Lake police who've launched their own investigation. In its public letter school district officials in Saranac Lake asked for help from the public, writing "hate does not come to children naturally. It is learned and when children are exposed to hate at home, in the media, in our community, in the digital world or at school, we are all damaged."

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