WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.(WLFI)- West Lafayette Community School Corporation Alumni are petitioning the district about changes they feel need to be made to better support students of color. On Thursday a group of Alumni announced the petition publicly at the West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School. The alumni say this isn't an attack on the character of the community but rather a challenge for the district to be part of a national solution.
"I feel that a lot of people don't really see what's going on behind the scenes because they aren't experiencing it we noticed that a lot online, said Becca Mims an Alumni of the West Lafayette Community School Corporation and one of the speakers at the gathering.
Mims is referring to a Facebook group that was started just two weeks. The group has nearly 1,500 members all of which were once students at West Lafayette Community School Corporation.
"There are people that still live here that still go to this school that I care about a lot, and I want this school to be a safer and better place for them I don't want them to feel the way I did," said Angela Frezza an alumnus of WLCSC who helped write the petition.
797 of the students in that group signed a petition that has been sent to the school district and the superintendent. The petition presents a list of changes that these students believe can enhance the district's policies when it comes to supporting people of color. The petition asks the school district for a number of things, like ending its contract with the West Lafayette police department.
"Cops aren't trained to work with children they are trained to work with adult criminals,” said Mims. “When cops are brought in to schools sometimes something that would be a disciplinary issue becomes a criminal issue and I don't think that's fostering an environment where someone feels safe to learn.”
In response to the petition, the school board released a statement saying “The West Lafayette Community School Corporation has zero-tolerance for racism and racial discrimination. It is the duty of the Board of School Trustees to ensure that our policies reflect this belief in every aspect of student life. We are committed to a well-rounded education for all and are proud of the opportunities that West Lafayette Schools affords its students. We also believe a climate that fosters constant improvement should work in concert with our ability to listen to the needs of all of our students.”
The group invited administrators to the gathering that took place but they didn't show up. One teacher did, though. She agrees there needs to be changed but says there are issues achieving everything the students are asking for.
"I think the police aspect is definitely needed other things within the petition like full-time director, that's difficult to do in a district as small as we are. I definitely think we can use some time as a faculty to address our curriculums,” said Carol Letcher a music teacher at West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School.
The full petition sent to administrators is posted below. To watch the students, tell their stories and experiences while attending school at WLCSC click here.