Dan Burns

Salinas Union High School District Superintendent Dan Burns at the school board meeting Aug. 24, where about 300 people spoke in response to the racist incident and called upon the board to take action.

Salinas Union High School District Superintendent Dan Burns announced Nov. 19 that the a third-party investigation about the racist doll incident that happened at the Salinas High Jamboree on Aug. 20 is complete. 

The incident was sparked by video that went viral showing several Salinas High School students posing with a caricatured Black doll and stomping it. The doll was named Shaniqua and was the main character in an Instagram account, @shaniqua.shs, that included several comments where teenagers used the N -word. The video prompted a petition on change.org demanding the district take action on the incident. 

The findings of the staff investigation were submitted to the Board of Trustees, Burns said in a district YouTube video.

All disciplinary actions against employees have been completed,” Burns said. He said the disciplinary measures couldn't be revealed to the public because they are personnel matters. 

“The Board of Trustees completed a thorough analysis of the investigation and wants to ensure the community that board policies and regulations were followed appropriately," he said.

Burns added the district is building relationships with local organizations to build “a lasting change.”

The district will create a diversity, equity and inclusion strategic planning committee and create an action plan, a process that could take up to a year. The district will partner with local organizations including CSU Monterey Bay.

During an initial internal investigation, the district identified four students who appeared in the video. One was removed from the cheer squad and three were suspended. The students suspended are two Latinos and one Black student. The Black student, Jayden Wilson, a senior at Salinas High School and Associated Student Body treasurer, said she only held the doll for a few seconds. Her family contended the district was perpetuating racism since not all students, with the same level of involvement, faced the same penalty. 

On August 24, during the SUHSD’s meeting, the district scrapped its regular meeting and heard concerns and fears  from parents, students and teachers and called them to take action. 

On Sept. 1, the district finished the student investigation and administrators identified 27 students involved. Neither the names nor disciplinary actions were released to the public. 

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