Friday, September 11, 2009

Skyline "Hate Crime" Incident, Ypsilanti Death: 11 Things I Want To Know

A female, Muslim, Iraqi refugee is attacked by a group of mostly boys, reportedly African-American, and needs stitches and a hospital visit. Was it a hate crime, as defined? Was it a neighborhood fight? Was it bullying, unrelated to the girl's national origin or religion or gender? I don't know. The kids are from the same neighborhood, and there may be a back story. I'm sure there is a history. . . I believe in innocence until proven guilty, so I am not proclaiming anyone's guilt.

But--hate crime or not--it is definitely going to be perceived that way by the Muslim and refugee communities.

Things I Want To Know

1. I asked my daughter today whether anything had been said to the students. Any mention of the incident? Any discussion of prejudice? Any offers of crisis support for kids who might themselves feel nervous about being picked on because of who they are?
NOT. ONE. WORD. From the administration, that is. For the kids, of course it was the talk of the town. Which seems really, really odd. And I want to know--WHY DIDN'T THE ADMINISTRATION SHARE ANY INFORMATION WITH SKYLINE STUDENTS?!!

2. Did the incident in question take place only after the kids got off the bus, or did it start on the bus and continue afterwards?

3. How is the school district working with the students who witnessed the incident?

4. Is the transportation department reviewing its policies, and are any parents or students helping with that review?

5. In a letter home to Skyline parents (a useless letter, I might add, in that it said virtually nothing), parents are told the district has completed an investigation and taken appropriate action. Who have they investigated? What kinds of actions have been taken? And why should we believe the actions have been "appropriate?"

6. If the FBI decides it is a hate crime, how will the district deal with that?

7. If the FBI decides it is not a hate crime, how will the district deal with the perception (which I believe will persist) that it is a hate crime.

8. My daughter reports that only a handful of kids at Skyline wear a hijab (head scarf). How is the district planning on being more welcoming to Muslim kids? (I hope to have more of my thoughts on this by the end of the weekend.)

And a couple of thoughts about the shooting death of a 17-year-old in Ypsilanti.
Whereas the Skyline incident prompted many many comments on, the death of a 17-year-old in a shooting on the south side of Ypsilanti drew very few. I want to know:

9. Was the 17-year-old a high school student, or had he (I think it was a he) dropped out?

10. Why does the death get fewer comments than the attack which results in stitches?

For both incidents, I want to know:

11. What can we do to teach kids that violence is not the way to solve problems?


  1. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights seems to think AAPS needs more training:

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