PORTLAND, Ore. — The father of an eighth grade student at West Sylvan Middle School in Portland said he's speaking out to shed light on a horrific attack against his son inside the school during the day.
Raheem Alexzander said last month, his 13-year-old got up to get some water in the hallway when he was accosted by two students.
"They threw him up against the wall, bound his hands behind his back and said they were, you know, treating him like George Floyd," he explained. "They proceeded to throw him on the ground face first with his hands bound behind his back, tied with the lanyard, and put their knee in his back and said that they were going to turn off their body cameras, and they were going to wait 20 seconds to insinuate the death of George Floyd."
Horrified by what he heard, Alexzander wanted to make sure the school was upfront about the attack. He met with school officials the next week about issuing a statement to all parents in the district.
"We want to make sure that you put the details of what happened to our son inside of this letter that get drafted and make sure that it goes out to [Portland Public Schools], because it's not just about our son, it's about others. We want to make sure that this doesn't happen to someone else," Alexzander said.
But that message wasn't sent out district-wide.
The middle school principal sent a letter to West Sylvan families only on Jan. 25, writing she was "deeply saddened to share" that the school "experienced a horrific hate-based incident" the week prior, noting that they were limited in what they could say since it was an ongoing investigation, involving students. She wrote that the school was "ensuring that the students involved in creating the harm receive appropriate disciplinary action." Her email also included links to resources and direct contact information for the school counseling team.
However, Alexzander said this statement didn't properly address the seriousness of what happened to his son.
"We can't throw it under the rug, which is what they did," he said Thursday. "My son has to see these images and videos of things that happen in our country to young, Black men, and for it to be reenacted to him inside our school during school hours is deeply troubling."
A spokesperson for PPS issued this statement to KGW:
"Portland Public Schools stands firmly against any hateful acts in our schools or community. Once leaders were made aware of the incident, we followed district discipline protocols, and provided support to impacted students and staff. As this incident involves students, we are not able to provide further details. Safety, diversity and inclusion are district core values and racist behavior will never be tolerated."
The Oregonian first reported this story. A district source told them that the two students responsible for the attack were expelled.