EDITOR’S NOTE: The Newhall School District is not allowed to make any specific comments about the incident due to federal law. A previous version of this story did not include the Newhall School District’s full statement on the issue. The statement has been integrated into the article.
Santa Clarita — A student who was recently expelled from Stevenson Ranch Elementary School for allegedly making racist comments spoke to Cougar News, Tuesday, to give his version of the story.
Grayson Thomas, 11, said that he was kicked out of his elementary school because he told a friend that KTLA anchor Chris Schauble, whose daughter also attends Stevenson Ranch, looked like President Barack Obama.
Thomas saw Schauble when the anchor was visiting his daughter for lunch. According to Thomas, it was not soon after he made the comments that he was being called a racist by Stevenson Ranch principal Candace Fleece, who along with Newhall School District superintendent Marc Winger, made the decision to revoke Thomas’ interdistrict transfer permit.
“I went into the cafeteria and said to one of my friends, ‘That guy looks like Obama,’” Grayson Thomas said. “She thought and was saying I meant that all black people look alike.”
Grayson Thomas had been attending Stevenson Ranch with a special permit because his family moved from Stevenson Ranch to Tesoro last summer. The fifth grader was still able to attend the school even after two prior incidents of verbal abuse of a female student and theft, respectively. Thomas’ father, Darren, said that Fleece told him that Grayson’s previous incidents did not play any role in the expulsion.
Darren Thomas, who was on speaker phone in the room while his wife spoke to Fleece in person, added that Fleece told the couple it wasn’t the exact comment that was the problem, but it was how his son made the comment.
“I’m still waiting to here what the punchline is. What is it that I’m to be killing my kid for later today,” Darren Thomas said he asked Fleece. “‘It was how he said it,'” Darren Thomas said about the response Fleece gave to him.
The District is unable to comment on any part of the matter due to federal law, but they did release this statement last week:
“The Newhall School District is disappointed that untrue and misleading statements have recently appeared in the media and on social networks concerning the revocation of the interdistrict transfer permit of a student. The District respects the privacy of all District students, and, following state and federal law, does not publicly share information concerning individual students so the facts supporting the District’s decision concerning this matter may not be made available to the public.
The District is respected for its record of academic achievement and excellence. As a result,families often seek interdistrict transfers to send their students to our schools. The interdistrict transfer process posted on our website (www.newhallschooldistrict.net) contains the conditionsand responsibilities of this privilege.
As set out in our District’s mission statement, ‘Optimal learning takes place in a safe atmosphereof mutual respect for diversity and for the community’ and, ‘children who develop a loveof learning gain a true sense of self worth, and will become lifelong learners and caring,responsible, and productive adults.’
We are proud of the continuing accomplishments of our students, their teachers, and of thesupportive parents in our community.”
In the middle of the debate between Grayson Thomas and the District is Schauble, who has yet to make any public comments about the incident. He’s been under attack from bloggers and other Grayson Thomas supporters online. Some have even left racist comments on Schauble’s KTLA bio page. But Darren Thomas said Schauble is not to blame for anything that has happened to his son.
“This is not something that’s his fault,” Darren Thomas said of Schauble. “To place it on him, this wasn’t his fault.”
As the incident begins to grab more national attention, Darren Thomas said he’s thinking about potentially suing the school district if one, officials don’t apologize to his son, and two, if Darren Thomas finds that the issue a systematic problem.
“Apologize. I’ll go away,” Darren Thomas said. “Call my son. Take him to his class at Stevenson ranch. Stand in front of those kids, the superintendent and the principal and say, ‘we made a really big mistake here.’”