Principal’s Message: Zero Tolerance For Hate Speech

Principal Ayesha Freeman sent out a letter Jan. 10 to the Cleveland community outlining her response to recent incidents of hate speech found on campus

By Staff Reports

Here is the text of the letter sent out by the administration on Jan. 10. Teachers were asked to read the letter to their sixth period class, and it was also sent out to parents on eNews and posted on the school’s webpage.




We, the Cleveland High School Administrative Team, are writing to express our concern that prior to winter break, we had more than one incident where hate speech showed up in hallways and bathrooms.  More specifically, there was hateful language and symbolism on two Jewish Student Union club fliers in late October, a month later we found a swastika on a locker, and the week before winter break, we found a number of racial slurs etched into a metal plaque in a boys bathroom. The administrative team is working closely with your teachers to offer you learning opportunities so you KNOW what hate speech IS.  We want you to know what constitutes hate so you also know when it is important to report it to an adult.  This letter read by your teacher is not the place to go into detail about what hate speech is.  For now, know that hate comes in many forms including racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-semitism, xenophobia, and bullying and harassing behaviors.


What you also need to know more immediately, is that we, as a school community, have a zero tolerance policy for any hate language or speech at Cleveland High School.  If you, as a student, experience or observe hate in school, or on social media, you can report it to  your Vice Principal.  You can make a report that is confidential.  In order to report to a Vice Principal, you can do one of the following:

1)  Come to the Main Office and talk to one of our thoughtful support staff to let them know that you would like to meet with your Vice Principal. They will help connect you immediately to your Vice Principal or they help you make an appointment to see your VP as soon as possible.

2)  You can inform a teacher, counselor, or any staff member and that staff member will report the incident to your Vice Principal.  Your VP will need to talk directly with you.


Once your Vice Principal knows that you have experienced or observed hate, racism, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, bullying, or harassment in any form, it is the responsibility of your VIce Principal to gather as many facts as possible, which include time of the incident, location, witnesses, and other related pieces of information that are needed to determine the next course of action.  Depending upon the seriousness of the incident, your VP, in close collaboration with the Principal, will also determine if Portland Police support is needed.  Once a school-based investigation is concluded, a number of actions can occur:

1)  The student, or students, who exhibited bullying or harassing behavior can receive a range of disciplinary consequences including suspension or expulsion from all PPS schools.

2)  A restorative justice conversation amongst the students involved will be utilized as a means to restore relationships and that is only if all parties involved are willing and want to participate in a restorative process.  In some cases a restorative justice (RJ) conversation is not the appropriate option.

3)  Parent(s)/Guardian(s) are always contacted and included in determining how to respond to a student when they are either the victim or the student making choices that is harming others.

4)  Vice Principals work in very close collaboration with your Counselor, sometimes the Social Worker and Case Managers, and individual staff members who provide social and emotional support to our students.


Your Vice Principals are:

Darryl Miles – 10th graders and 9th Grade Pacific, Sequoia, and Trillium Academies

Julie Rierson – 11th graders and 9th Grade Tillamook Academy

Kristy Mize – 12th graders and Stumptown and Wy’East Academies


The Principal works closely with our Vice Principals on any incidents of hate and will take serious action to hold our students capable of treating one another with compassion and kindness.  A zero tolerance policy means that we will not tolerate hate in any form at Cleveland High School.  Your responsibility, students, is to report to an adult, and what would be most expedient, is that you confidentially report directly to your Vice Principal.  If you are not comfortable with coming to the Main Office, please tell another adult in the school and that adult will inform your Vice Principal who will need to speak with you.  We care about you, your safety, and your health and well-being AND it is our call to action to stop incidents of “hate” immediately.

The CHS Administrative Team,

Principal Freeman

Vice Principal Miles

Vice Principal Mize

Vice Principal Rierson