A D-49 employee contacted by the Indy confirmed that she had told Horras about the graffiti in the first week of school in August. Instead of acting to have the racist word removed, however, Horras simply said, "that's not what it says," the employee says.
As of Thursday, the graffiti was still in place.
"This is the first we've heard of it," D-49 spokesperson Stephanie Meredith said today. "As soon as we heard about the graffiti we immediately sent crews over there and it's been taken down."
Meredith says she talked with Horras and he denied having any knowledge of the graffiti.
The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been informed of the situation, and chapter president Rosemary Harris Lytle has written a letter to D-49 superintendent Dr. Bradley Schoeppey, informing him of the situation and encouraging to show more racial sensitivity than his principal and have the vandalism removed (and maybe even —
shutter shudder — discipline Horras).
Her letter is as follows:
The Colorado Springs Branch NAACP is investigating a complaint of the presence of racist graffiti on the playground equipment at Evans International Elementary School.
As you will see in the attached photos taken by our Education Committee, the n-word clearly defaces the equipment on which the children at Evans Elementary, a Title 1 school, play and learn. We understand from the complainants that this was reported to Mr. Dustin Horras, school principal, during the first week of school — August 2009. No action has been taken by Mr. Horras to remove the offensive graffiti.
According to our complainants, some staff state the graffiti has been on the playground equipment since the 2008-2009 school year. Yet, the principal — who is the building leader — has done nothing to see that it was removed.
The graffiti could still be seen on the playground as of the date these photos were taken, March 30, 2010.
The NAACP finds the inaction of the principal as offensive and unacceptable behavior by an employee of a public school and as an egregious lack of building leadership. We view his inaction to be as offensive as the actual act of spray painting on the school's playground equipment. If it is determined that this has existed unchecked for nearly an entire school year, Mr. Horras should be disciplined, up to and including his removal as principal. No child should have to learn in such an environment and no staff member should have to work in one.
The NAACP and its Education Committee Co-Chairs demand the immediate removal of the equipment that contains this racially-charged word. We also request a meeting with you within the next five business days to discuss a plan for ensuring accountability and remediation for students and staff who have had to endure this indignity for so long.
I can be reached using the contact information below.
Rosemary Harris Lytle, MPA
Colorado Springs Branch NAACP
PO Box 1915
Colorado Springs, CO 80901