Student discussions aimed at easing racial tensions in Federal Way high school

By: Gary Horcher

Updated:

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - The Federal Way school superintendent announced a plan for several open student forums to discuss different perspectives amid recent racial tensions dividing parts of Todd Beamer High School.

Dr. Tammy Campbell told KIRO 7 parents are invited to observe the student discussions, which will be held Thursday and Friday in the school's Great Hall.

The move follows tensions surrounding a recent Black Lives Matter movement, organized by the school's Black Student Union, last week. Students were encouraged to wear all black clothing for a day to support the student movement -- which may have been inspired by the arrest of a black student who police say resisted arrest after a fight, in front of dozens of other students.

Angela Wilcox told KIRO 7 that her daughter, a 14-year-old freshman, was confronted by at least fifty students screaming threats, after she made public comments Tuesday night to the school board about why she opted not to wear all black to school to support the movement.

"I was ridiculed from many people who I'm assuming really didn't know what they were talking about," said Ellie Mae Hanie.

Hanie said she had to be removed from the angry mob by a school security officer, who advised her mother to keep her away from school.

"He basically told me "this might blow over in a couple days, you might just want to keep her out of school for a couple days." "I just knew I needed to get my daughter off the campus."

Dr. Campbell told KIRO 7 the incident is under investigation, and she urged Hanie to return, "It's of the utmost importance that she feel safe at school," Campbell said.

She also reiterated the importance of reaching understanding among students to ease tensions.

"In the world of work, I have to work, I work alongside people I don't agree with, but I have to find common ground," Campbell said. "I think this is a perfect type of career skill we want our scholars to have as they go out in the workplace. I see this as a learning opportunity for our scholars and for our staff to say "we remember when we had that hard conversation?" We're closer we're better we're more connected because of it, and I think that's what's going to come out of this."

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