WATERVILLE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Disturbing allegations of student misbehavior have led a southern Minnesota school district to cancel this weekend’s homecoming festivities.
That means no pep fest, no coronation and no dance. And now, law enforcement is investigating allegations that include racist, hate-filled graffiti targeting a biracial teenager in the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown district.
"I would like it to be investigated as a hate crime," demanded Chad Alladin, the victim’s father. "In my mind, that is what it is."
Alladin came out of his rural Le Sueur County house in the middle of the night earlier this week and was absolutely disgusted by what he found written on the car his son drives.
Hate, poison, the words and imagery are so vile, FOX 9 had to blur the photographs and video. Alladin is convinced, it was a targeted act of vandalism, and it was all captured on surveillance cameras he installed around his home.
"I was told by Le Sueur County that most likely, the ones they can identify will be charged with aggravated harassment," explained Alladin, who asked FOX 9 not to publicly name his teen son.
Sheriff Brett Mason confirmed that his office is investigating. And even though his son no longer attends WEM High School, Alladin believes those responsible are current students, perhaps involving as many as 50 kids. When the family initially brought the racist vandalism to the attention of school administrators, they were stunned this week’s homecoming festivities were not immediately canceled.
"I think based off of the lack of consequences, they have allowed this behavior to just go on and on," Alladin told FOX 9’s Paul Blume in an interview inside his family’s home. "What the principal had told me is because it was not on school grounds, the most they could do, is the kids who were identified as athletes could be suspended for two weeks from athletics."
But overnight, there was another alleged incident, this time at the high school itself. FOX 9 has not been able to confirm the exact nature of what occurred, some have called it a "break-in." The Waterville police described it as "suspicious activity." Whatever happened, it was apparently too much for district leaders, they immediately canceled the rest of homecoming in a bulletin sent out to families, signed by Superintendent John Regan.
The letter reads:
"As we shared yesterday, there have been some troubling activities taking place related to Homecoming Week. This behavior does not reflect the values of the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown School District.
"Unfortunately, there was a continuation of these activities yesterday evening. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all remaining homecoming activities for the rest of the week and weekend. Specifically, this affects tonight’s presentation of the coronation of the Homecoming Court, the pep fest, and the dance. These events have all been canceled.
"As you know, we hold our students to high standards, whether it’s in the classroom, competing in extracurricular activities, or taking part in other events. We will continue to take all code of conduct violations very seriously and will issue disciplinary action when possible.
"We know that this decision will be disappointing to many of our students, families, staff, and community members. We appreciate your understanding and support."
Alladin believes the district’s decision to cancel the remaining homecoming events came too late, and the consequences should have been more immediate and severe.
"This has been going on for years. Almost every year, going back three or four years, they have had to threaten the students of canceling homecoming. And they have always been told, if this happens again, we're not having homecoming. Well, it's always been an empty threat," concluded Alladin. "I had been contacted by so many other people who have had similar incidents, either due to race, or sexuality. One parent's son was autistic and being bullied, and the repeating of the same comment, that the school ‘doesn't do anything about it.’"