NNHS Black History Month and N word Incidents

Incidents Regarding the Use of the N word at NNHS

Dear Newton North community,

Over the past few weeks, we have learned that several North students have been sharing social media posts of individuals using the N-word.  Additionally, we have received reports of students using this word in the hallways as well. These incidents have been or are being investigated and responded to in accordance with the discipline procedures outlined in our Student Handbook.  As noted in our handbook, the use of the N-word has severe consequences, up to and including suspension.

The use of this word is racist, unacceptable, and will not be tolerated. Any language that racially targets and threatens the emotional safety of anyone in our school community violates our values.  Teachers will remind all students of these values in homeroom class on Tuesday.

After school today, Vice Principal Amy Winston and I met with students from our student organization Black Leadership Advisory Council, along with their advisors Pam Pistner and Elvin Cardona.  Understandably, all of us in the room expressed feelings of hurt and anger from the impact of these incidents. We recognize that student voices are critical in improving our school culture and climate and we will continue to hold ongoing conversations with this Council to discuss how we can best support all of our students and respond appropriately if/when such unfortunate situations occur.

As a school community, we have taken steps to proactively address and minimize hatred and racism, including, but not limited to, our anti-bias days and our cultural days. We also work in collaboration with our Office of Human Rights, Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ), our Leadership for a Diverse Society class and other groups to strengthen our work to ensure that Newton North is an inclusive and respectful community for all its members.  Students can always speak with any adult if they learn of any incident of bias, hate or discrimination.

These incidents are a stark reminder that while we have done a lot of work as a school and district addressing issues of race, we will need a community effort to make meaningful progress.

Please join us standing up against discriminatory or bigoted language at North and promoting an inclusive and respectful community.  If you would like to participate in the Newton North FORJ, please go to the following link to sign up https://forjnewton.com/

Thank you for your understanding and support,

Henry J. Turner, Ed.D


Newton North High School

Dear Newton North Community,

Since my email to you, last Monday (February 3rd) Newton North has been responding to the N word incidents.

  • Teachers engaged with their homerooms about the use of this word and many classes have continued the discussion of hate speech in their classrooms.
  • Our deans and counselors have been busy addressing these incidents with the students involved and supporting students who were hurt by these incidents.
  • On Thursday our Professional Development was a continuation of our focus on Culturally Responsive Instruction and how we can strengthen our diverse learning community by improving relationships with all students.
  • Our students have also been at work and are planning to respond in many ways.


 I am so proud of the collaboration between the NNHS Graphic Arts program and BLAC for developing this powerful and creative advertisement for Black History Month and NNHS Black Culture Day on February 28th.

I am also grateful for having such a robust parent support organization with NNHS Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ).  NNHS FORJ asked me to share the below message with you.

Also, I will be in touch tomorrow regarding student action towards these incidents.


Dear Newton North Community,

At a recent NNHS Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ) meeting, parents, grandparents, and other community members met with Principal Turner and a committed group of teachers and faculty. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ongoing efforts to reduce bias and strengthen inclusion and racial equity at Newton North and how these efforts could be supported by the broader community. This discussion included the actions taken in response to recent incidents involving the use of the N word on social media.

One central theme of the evening was the need to equip parents and other caretakers with the knowledge, tools, and encouragement necessary to encourage meaningful conversations with teens. This is a critical time for teens as they are developing their value systems and also are often in a position of influencing their peers.

We know these conversations can be challenging. Talking about race and racism can present uneasiness, with many of us feeling like we do not have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to have these conversations. To raise our collective impact, FORJ is initiating a focused effort to support parents and other caretakers.

This spring we will host a forum to bring together parents and experts to discuss effective approaches for addressing racism and supporting the diverse, inclusive, and equitable community we desire. In addition to in-person events, we will also be enhancing our online presence with a FORJ dedicated page on the NNHS website to provide resources and additional ways to connect with these efforts.

We encourage everyone to be on the lookout for these events and to review the following options as a way to get started.

Have a few minutes to spare right now?

View this short video in which Ta-Nehisi Coates provides an engaging explanation of words that do not belong to everyone. Your teens are likely to connect with this too. https://youtu.be/QO15S3WC9pg

Looking for your next podcast?

Seeing White is well worth your time. https://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/

Want a whole lot more?

Debby Irving, a local racial justice educator, and writer has a broad range of books, blogs, podcasts, and more. Follow this link for parent and educator resources: https://debbyirving.com/for-educators-and-parents/

Those who enjoy a bit more structure should consider the 21-day challenge. https://dev.debbyirving.com/21-day-challenge/

Looking for an in-person experience?

Consider attending one of the next NNHS FORJ meetings. The next three meetings are from 6:30-8:30pm in the NNHS International Café on March 3rd, April 6th, and May 7th .   You can contact us for more information about our meetings and how to get involved at: nnhsforj@gmail.com

The Citywide FORJ group is also a rich resource. Find out more at www.forjnewton.org or on FORJ’s Facebook page: FORJ – Families Organizing for Racial Justice, Newton MA

We look forward to engaging with you further and welcome your comments and suggestions.  Racism diminishes us all, and together we can create a brighter future.


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