FAIRFIELD (CBS13) — Classes were canceled at Vanden High School in Fairfield Wednesday after a threat of violence. Hours later, a parent came forward with concerns about racial tensions at the school citing graffiti with slurs that appeared on campus earlier this month.
The school district is saying these two events are unrelated. But that still has students and some parents uneasy.
“I do feel like the school is on edge. I feel like the administration is doing its best to handle the situation but it’s spiraling,” said a senior at Vanden who wanted to remain unnamed.
She’s glad classes were canceled Wednesday after a threat of violence towards students.
“The safety of our students and staff are the utmost priority,” said Superintendent Pam Conklin.
The school district wouldn’t say much about the investigation except that they were working with Fairfield police to find out who was responsible.
“I know them. I didn’t expect this out of them,” said the student.
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Students say the school known for its diversity has seemed tense this last month after graffiti including obscene images and derogatory remarks about LGBTQ people, the disabled, and a baseball player was spray painted on the baseball dugout.
Edward Russell, that player’s father, took to social media to shine a light on the incident, which he called a hate crime. He spoke Wednesday at a press conference alongside the NAACP.
“I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. And this has been going on for weeks,“ said Russell.
Russell says the teens responsible were only suspended five days for vandalism. While the images are now gone, the pain is still there. He criticized the way the school handled the situation and says now that he has gone public, other parents have shared similar stories.
“It hurts my heart. He has to go through this now for the remaining nine weeks. He has to walk to school with his head on a swivel because people that don’t like him because of whatever his color, his skin, they might want to do him some harm,” said Russell.
The school district anticipates re-opening the high school Thursday but if that changes it says it will notify parents via their Facebook page, website, or alert system.