WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Vigo County School Superintendent Rob Haworth provided an update on where things stand regarding an investigation into racial harassment allegations at West Vigo High School.
Speaking following the monthly school board meeting on Monday, Haworth said the school board had been given an overview from the investigation team earlier in the day, but it did not go into too much detail in case. Neither the school board nor Haworth made the overview public.
He preached patience as the investigation takes it course.
“My message is we’ve got to get this right,” he said. “We can’t just say we are against those actions, we’ve got to demonstrate that we won’t tolerate those actions.”
Nearly a dozen residents spoke during the meeting, addressing their concerns about bullying and racism within the school corporation. One of the speakers, Reverend Terry Clark, said he wanted to make it clear what he wanted to come from the investigation.
“We challenge the school corporation to do something about it,” he said. “To deal with those who either perpetrate this type of behavior or those who aren’t complicit in it. Even if they’re faculty or staff members or whatnot, there has to be consequences towards those actions or lack of actions.”
Haworth said he understood the concerns expressed at the meeting– and believes they are taking the right steps to address them.
“It’s our hope that throughout this process that they will see our actions, that we did take this investigation seriously, we do know that there are issues, and we’re not going to sweep things under the rug,” he said.
Clark said he was satisfied with the turnout at the meeting.
“It was great,” he said. “I think it was positive that there were so many voices who spoke out against that. We’re basically on the same page. I think it was refreshing to see this community come together in order to do that, we had a packed room.”
While Haworth did not say how much the investigation has cost the school corporation, he said he did not want to undervalue the concerns of the community.
“You don’t want to skimp on an investigation to save a few dollars,” he said. “You want to bring in the best possible people, who usually carry a little higher price tag, in order to get this right.”
And with his retirement from the position coming in January of 2023, Haworth said he thought the school corporation had made progress in diversity initiatives during his tenure. He mentioned hiring the school corporation’s first director of diversity, adding unity coaches in every building and implementing diversity training for the administration.
Still, he said this situation shows there is progress that needs to be made.
“We are building on some pieces. Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “We’re happy with our start, it’s now, to the point made by many tonight, it’s how you finish this thing. And we hope to finish in a way our community can look back and say, ‘Yep, they got that one right.’”
Haworth said any potential discipline for students involved, would be determined by the principal at West Vigo. It could come at some point this week. Possible discipline for adults involved in the investigation will take additional time. Due to the fact that minors are potentially involved, Haworth wasn’t sure how much they could publicly disclose about any punishment once the investigation is complete.