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Utah student speaks out about alleged racial discrimination by school leader

Posted at 5:09 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 13:04:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY — An eighth-grade student is speaking up after she said she was targeted and discriminated against by the assistant principal at her school. The assistant principal in the Granite School District was placed on leave Tuesday following racism and harassment allegations made by the eighth-grade student.

FOX 13 News spoke to the 14-year-old girl who is still shocked by the experience.

“After what he said to me, that’s something I’ll never forget, he can’t take back what he said,” said Melanie Oeur.

14-year-old Oeur is a student at Bonneville Junior High School and said her excitement about wearing a new outfit to school was crushed Tuesday after she was told by the assistant principal she wasn’t following the dress code.

“I was wearing cargo pants and a shirt that showed the littlest bit of stomach,” said Oeur.

She explained other girls were wearing clothing that she believed didn’t follow dress code. When she asked the assistant principal if he was going to penalize them, he said no.

“I noticed that all the girls wearing those outfits were white, I asked, 'Are you doing this because I am brown, are you dress coding me because I am brown?' And he looked me in the eyes and said yes,” said Oeur.

Oeur said she humiliated and called her aunt, Dinka Fetic, who demanded to speak to the assistant principal. Dinka said he defended the situation.

“You literally told her you singled her out because she’s brown and he said, 'Well, I was being sarcastic,'" Fetic said. "My response was, well, she’s 14. She’s obviously brown, but why does anything have to be based on skin color, he who is in a position he is at her school should not have said what he said."

The family says while this is tough to relive, they want this story to be heard so those who aren’t brave enough to speak up don’t feel alone.

“Kids are committing suicide left to right over things like that," Fetic said. "This may be something small that happened, but this is just the start, this is where it stems from, it makes me wonder how many other kids over the years he has made a comment to, trying to be funny sarcastic, whatever, how many kids went home and said nothing, who were embarrassed ashamed, because something someone said to them in regard to their race."

The assistant principal, who was scheduled to retire at the end of the school year, was placed on leave until a district investigation is completed. Despite the upcoming retirement, the investigation will continue because the assistant principal is still an employee with the district.

District officials said they became aware of the allegations Tuesday and took immediate action.

A statement from the District reads in part, “Harassment and racism will not be tolerated in any form. We anticipate taking appropriate action once the investigation is complete. We appreciate the parent and student bringing this concern to our attention so that it can be addressed."