When Michelle LaMirande and her three children returned to the Pit River Tribe’s reservation in Northern California, her son Tyler had grown his hair long in honor of his father, who had died from kidney disease when they lived in the Bay Area.
She says Tyler has endured abuse in the Burney, Calif., school system, and Indian Country Today reports he has not been alone.
In a story by Marc Dadigan, ICTMN says many parents believe the abuse is escalating, and complain that the schools aren’t doing anything to stop it.
Notes reading “Watch Your Redskinned Back” and “White Pride Bitch” were left March 4 in the lockers of two Pit River Tribe students at a Northern California high school where parents have alleged for months there is systemic, racially charged abuse of their children.
The notes were reported by parents to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies are investigating whether it constitutes a hate crime. Believing that the atmosphere at Burney Junior-Senior High School has become too toxic and dangerous, two Pit River parents have already transferred their children to the neighboring schools 16 miles away in Fall River Mills.
LaMirande and her son told Dadigan other students would pull Tyler down by his hair in gym class and call him a “long-haired freak” and homosexual slurs.
When Tyler was suspended in October after fighting a student who ridiculed his hair, the school principal allegedly told LaMirande she should cut his son’s hair to end the bullying.
ICTMN reports that parents’ complaints are “remarkably similar” to ones in recent legal complaints filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Yurok Tribe and Wiyot Tribe against two Humboldt County school districts.
- Vince Devlin