In early July, the Visalia Unified School District removed Black Lives Matter posters placed by students along a fence outside El Diamante High School. While some saw this act as silencing free speech, the district says it was trying to protect students. Now the district is creating a new space for students to engage.
Brandon Gridiron is the district’s Administrator of Equity. He says the decision to take down the signs came solely out of concern for the safety of the students after several adults became aggressive.
“Adults within our community decided to take it upon themselves to show their disapproval of the signs,” Gridiron said. “And what happened is they decided to engage in conflict and contention with some of our kids.”
Gridiron says he saw adults drive by yelling racial slurs and waving Confederate flags. In response, the district held a forum to address social justice and police brutality with 15 students, three district staff members, and the Visalia police chief.
“The forum was scheduled to get input from the students about how can we make sure their voices are heard but do it in a way that doesn’t put you at risk of a safety issue,” he said.
Still, students said the June 30th forum was not big enough. Another much larger online forum will take place at the end of July, according to Gridiron. For more information visit vusd.org.