Racist messages were found scrawled on doors at Temecula Valley High School, leading school administrators to conduct an investigation Thursday.
Images of one of the messages, which were written on gym doors and use the offensive racial slur commonly known as the “n-word” to describe a student, began circulating on social media Thursday morning.
Temecula Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Laura Boss said school administrators became aware of the messages around that same time and began reviewing security camera footage from the area.
Solona Husband, the TVHS senior whose name is referenced in the messages, said she found out about them late Wednesday night when a fellow student sent her a picture of one of the doors. Husband was previously interviewed by Valley News in September when she spoke out against TVHS’ handling of a Confederate flag that a student painted on his senior parking space, and again last month when a hashtag she started, #TVHSneedschange, caused students to share stories of bullying, racism and discrimination they say happens on campus.
“After one of my shows for a play that I’m in, my castmate actually sent me a picture of the wall or whatever it was and he said one of his friends told him about it,” Husband said. “I wasn’t surprised at the fact that it said what it said. I was just more surprised at the fact that it was still there but I think I’m past the point of getting angry and upset and feeling emotional. My next move is just find out who did this, make people aware of this, expose this and keep moving.”
Husband said she and other students drew over the racist speech on one of the doors with positive and anti-hate messages. By late Thursday afternoon, both doors had been wiped clean by administrators.
In a message Williams distributed to TVHS students and parents Thursday evening, he said administrators removed the vandalism immediately once it was brought to their attention.
“Preceding (its) removal, we learned that yesterday a student took a picture of the abhorrent words and it was posted to multiple social media platforms,” Williams said. “The administrative team and teachers worked closely with the victim to insure the student was supported throughout the day.”
Boss said TVHS Principal Allen Williams worked to emphasize “that TVHS will not tolerate a culture of hate in any form” during the school’s audio announcements Thursday morning.
“The ASB hosted tables on campus today encouraging students to sign posters in opposition to hate behavior,” Boss said. “The posters will be displayed around campus as reminders.”
In Williams’ message Thursday, he thanked TVHS ASB leaders for working to “put in place an opportunity for our students to express their support for each other and denounce words, actions, and behaviors that denigrate us.”
“I want to also take this opportunity to remind all in our Golden Bear Family to practice ‘See Something, Hear Something, Say Something,'” Williams said. “We must proactively work together by being vigilant with immediately reporting issues and concerns.”
Husband, who has received some backlash on social media over the last few months in response to her activism at TVHS, said she appreciated the message the school was trying to send with the posters.
“I’m just glad that it’s getting attention, because I don’t want it to be a me thing,” she said. “I want it to be minorities on campus that also experience the same thing.”
Williams said Thursday that school administrators believe they have identified the individual person responsible for creating the messages and were working through the school discipline process as well as working closely with law enforcement.
On Friday, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Deputy Robyn Flores told Valley News that the sheriff’s department had determined a male juvenile was responsible for the writing. The individual was cited for misdemeanor vandalism, Flores said.
9:45 a.m. Friday: This story was updated with additional information from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
1:45 p.m. Friday: This story was updated with quotes from Temecula Valley High School Principal Allen Williams.