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D.C. schools to start racial-sensitivity plan

January 24, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The staff and students at a school where a Hispanic student has accused the principal of taping his mouth shut will have to participate in racial sensitivity training.

``Wherever we have a charge of (discrimination), we’re going to get to the bottom of it. ... Prejudice will not be tolerated,″ schools chief Julius Becton said Friday.

The new initiative, prompted by lingering tensions between Hispanics and blacks, stresses racial sensitivity training and forces school administrators to work closely with Latino leaders in the district.

The action comes after allegations that MacFarland Middle School Principal Roceal Duke, who is black, bound seventh-grade students Erik Chavez, 13, and Cristian Reyes, 12, with masking tape as punishment for misbehavior in separate incidents on Dec. 8 and Dec. 10.

Chavez said he was marched in front of other students in the cafeteria with tape on his mouth and wrists.

In recent weeks, Hispanic parents and community activists have staged protests at the school.

The school incident is the latest flareup in uneasy relations between blacks and Hispanics in the district. In 1991, residents of a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood two miles from the White House rioted after a black police officer shot a Hispanic man. Curfews were imposed for three nights, and more than 150 were arrested.

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