PHOENIX — The former principal of Desert Vista High School said she was unaware of any racial tensions at the school while she was at the helm, despite a recent viral photo of students wearing shirts spelling out a racial slur.
“There were no race problems at Desert Vista High School,” Anna Battle told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Wednesday.
Battle, who oversaw the school for nine years after serving as assistant principal for six before leaving for a district position last year, said she saw standard issues with teenagers but racism was not a problem she encountered.
Though she now serves as the assistant superintendent of the Tempe Union High School District, Battle said she knew of a few of the girls in the photo — though she did not know them personally — and was surprised to hear about their participation.
Despite reports the girls were suspended for 10 days, Battle said the district is waiting on a recommendation of punishment for the girls from school administration, as is the process for any discipline.
“We’re working with all things, as we would with any type of complaint,” she said, adding that the school cannot give a suspension longer than 10 days.
Battle confirmed the girls are currently out of school, but have not yet been suspended. Should the girls be punished, Battle said she cannot discuss it as it is a matter of student confidentiality.
Battle denied the claim made by a former teacher, Cicely Cobb, who said she went to Battle and another official to address multiple claims of racism at the school, but neither listened to her.
“The pain that I would have shared with any teacher … would be something I would never forget and would have addressed,” Battle said when asked if Cobb had spoken to her about the issue.
Cobb is suing the school in federal court for racial discrimination.
Battle said she hopes something positive comes out of the situation and praised Desert Vista students who are taking a stand against the racial slur.
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