Middle school student experiences racist bullying

The Medford School District offices (Georgia Lawson/News 10)

McLoughlin seventh grader Saja Stone has faced challenges in the classroom beyond the typical demands of middle school.

"These boys came up to me and were laughing at me and saying, 'you're blacker than your phone, and you're overcooked Top Ramen, and you're ugly'," Saja said.

The comments have been going on for a few weeks. She told the teacher, and disciplinary action was taken against the students. The district declined to provide specifics, citing privacy rules, but despite any actions taken after the fact, much of the pain had already been done.

"Every child needs to come to school, and we want them to feel safe in doing so," Chief Academic Officer Michelle Cummings said. "And we want them to feel supported and positively reinforced for their identity, regardless of their background."

The Medford School District has recently taken steps to prevent situations like this, including hiring an equity specialist using a grant shared with the Ashland School District.

The district says there has also been a collaborative push across many southern Oregon schools to attract a more diverse work force.

However, the problem remains, and it could take some time and consistency to remedy. The school district recognizes their unique role in that. "We believe that education is the answer to many problems, and we believe our students need education on equity as well," Cummings said, adding that they have been educating staff as well to reduce bias in the classroom.

While schools continue to progress down a path of fairness and acceptance, however, more incidents like this could happen again.

In the meantime, Saja has a message for others: "Be strong, don't listen to what other people say, and be a beautiful person."

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