Committee calls for understanding in schools

When Adrienne Wahnetah stood up to speak to school board members Tuesday evening, few understood what she had to say.

"Pectumoli digumdi' ye' Le'i' Washiwshiw Washiwshiw 'ahuyi." she began. She continued in her family's native Washoe tongue.

Then she explained her point in English.

"I want to thank you that you are here to listen to us," she said. "I'm asking all of you to see through our eyes."

Wahnetah, who will be a junior at Carson High School next year, joined with parents, school and community leaders and other organizations on a committee which has been committed to raising understanding amongst ethnic groups.

After meeting twice a month for six months, about 25 members of that committee attended the Carson City School Board meeting on Tuesday, where they issued a list of 12 recommendations.

Topping the list was the suggestion to form a diversity-compliance committee, which would consult with several other suggested committees.

The list also suggested the intramural sports programs be created, information from schools be translated into Spanish, and recognition that cultural days be incorporated into school curriculum.

The committee was formed in November after a group of American Indian parents complained to the school board that their children were unfairly questioned after a fight between an Indian and a Hispanic student in September.

During Tuesday's meeting, Trustee James Hukari called the behavior of school and law-enforcement officials "inexcusable" and apologized.

Laura Mijanovich, representative of the American Civil Liberties Union, told board members the incident was the effect of a larger problem.

"We got involved because we heard serious concerns regarding the environment at Carson High School," she said. "We found a lot of embedded attitudes that are obstacles to student achievement and have caused many students to leave school. This is a gigantic red flag."

Superintendent Mary Pierczynski assured them their concerns were heard.

"As a school district, we strive to be welcoming and show concern for all of our students," she said. "We all have areas where improvements can be made. I think we come away with a better understanding of each other."

Contact Teri Vance at or at 881-1272.


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