The day after Vice President-elect Mike Pence returned to Indiana, reports of students facing election-related racial taunts have emerged from his hometown.
In a memo to members of the Bartholomew Consolidated School District in Columbus, Superintendent Jim Roberts called students to respect each another.
“Our school system will not tolerate actions that demonstrate a lack of understanding and respect for our differences,” Roberts said.
The memo, titled “Respect, Fairness and Trust for ALL,” was posted to the district’s website on Friday. Officials declined any further comment.
“Regardless of our political leanings, it is imperative that we address each other in a civil manner, openly communicate, and actively demonstrate respect and appreciation,” Roberts said.
The memo follows and incident in which Felipe Martinez says his teenage sons, who are Latino, felt threatened when their peers began chanting “Build that wall.” He says one incident specifically targeted one of his sons and one happened on Election Day.
“It was meant to intimidate,” Martinez says. “We have experienced, as a family, some instances of harassment against our children.”
Martinez says the situations have now been resolved, with students and their parents. He’s happy with the schools’ immediate actions following the incidents and isn’t calling for any further action.
“This particular moment is something that I think can be a learning opportunity for us as a community,” Martinez says.
In a speech to supporters Thursday, Pence called on Americans to heal their divisions. Critics point to the rhetoric of his running mate and President-elect Donald Trump as legitimizing hate-fueled behavior.
“Pray that we may find our way forward as a nation, that we may renew the American dream,” Pence said. “Heal the divisions in our country and move forward to a more prosperous future.”
The reports from Columbus follow an incident in which police are investigating after an unknown person painted swastikas and the letters KKK in Bloomington on Thursday.