“Culture of racism” sparks Edmond North students’ transfer

EDMOND, Okla. - Some Edmond North High School students who recently transferred out of the school, said they did so to escape a culture of racism among the school students.

“If you're at a different school, you know Edmond North is like this,” said Maurice Franklin, a senior at the school who transferred there from Edmond Santa Fe. “You know. It's very natural for white people to say the n-word.”

Franklin said he never wants to make a big deal out of the instances of racism he’s seen or been the victim of, but that it is a big deal.

“It makes me angry," Franklin said. “There's a bunch of black people here that feel like they don't belong, and i'm one of those people.”

It depends who you ask. One student we spoke to said while he’s aware of some students’ instances of racism, there are far more students who are respectful and supportive of one another.

But several students we spoke to say it’s undeniable, that they’ve witnessed instances of racism, or are aware that Edmond North has a reputation for it.

Rhonda Robinson, a grandmother of three former Edmond North students, said 90-percent of the people she talks to about the school say it’s not good for students of color. But she doesn’t need to be told, her grandchildren have seen it first-hand.

“They hear about it a lot, so much during the school time that it's become second place for them,” Rhonda said. “But it shouldn't be. It should not be. Not in 2018.”

Recently one of her grandchildren came home with a recording of another student telling a racist joke that used the n-word. But the situation finally came to a head a week ago, when her grandson discovered he was featured in a racist photo circulating on social media. The photo showed his head cropped on another student’s chest, a racial slur pointing at his head.

“I went from zero to 300 real quick,” Robinson said. “I was livid.”

Representatives of the school declined to be interviewed on camera, but said Robinson only reported one instance of racism, and released the following statement:

“Last Wednesday, October 3, ENHS administrators were made aware of an offensive social media post concerning one of Ms. Robinson's grandchildren. ENHS administrators initiated a prompt investigation of the matter while simultaneously reporting the incident to Edmond Police for potential criminal investigation. The student who shared the derogatory and regrettable post was found within minutes and immediately disciplined in accordance with the district's Harassment//Intimidation/Bullying policy. ENHS takes seriously and will not tolerate race-based harassment or bullying.”

Robinson’s kids were granted permission to transfer to another school, but she still wants her voice heard, hoping the school will address the problem with the entire student body.

“The students still there, they feel helpless, they feel like their hands are tied and they just have to tough this out,” Robinson said. “No kid should have to tough it out.”