SARANAC LAKE — School officials here issued an apology for not being aware of racial bullying at Petrova Middle School.
"We should have known that a child in our Middle School was being bullied, and we did not. We appeared indifferent, insensitive, and for this, we are deeply sorry. As educators, we can and will do better," the letter from School Board President Debra Lennon and Superintendent Gerald Goldman reads.
"Beginning immediately, we will review every protocol and policy related to bullying and harassment. We will examine and revise how we teach tolerance and diversity to our children.
"We cannot do this alone. We will need your help, and we will ask for it."
The letter, dated July 4, was published Wednesday on the Saranac Lake School Board Web page: www.saranaclakecs.org
The missive was written in response to verbal and physical assaults made by students against a 12-year-old child of color in fifth grade.
According to the girl's mother, Amy Oliveras, some students in sixth and eighth grade taunted her daughter, Adrienne, almost daily with racist slurs and cruel, sometimes physical acts, even going so far as to propose on a social networking site that the girl commit suicide.
On June 21, Adrienne left a backpack near a stairwell to go outside to play at school. The girl returned to find the bag open and papers torn up, three perfume bottles shattered, a calculator broken and pencils snapped in half.
Her deodorant was used to write "f--- ni--er" on the nearby cement in bold letters.
"This is the worst year my daughter has ever had," Oliveras told the Press-Republican last week, describing what has allegedly been nearly two years of harassment.
The girl stopped doing homework, started failing some classes and cried often, telling her family she felt like she didn't fit in.
Oliveras reported the incident to Saranac Lake Police Department, which opened a criminal investigation.