An HISD police officer distributed a highly racist pamphlet titled: “Ghetto Handbook: Wucha dun did now?” to 15 HISD officers in May of 2007. The pamphlet was purportedly written by 6 HISD officers. In mid-August a complaint came forward from the Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Only one officer was suspended as a result. HISD Police Chief Charles Wiley refuses comment on the matter.
‘Ghetto’ booklet probed by HISD
Some ask why it took 3 months to investigate the item distributed by district officer
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
A crudely made “Ghetto Handbook” distributed by a Houston school district police officer sparked angry words Thursday from leaders in the district and the community — both because of its language and the fact that no action was taken for three months.
This publication was completely reprehensible and HISD condemns it in the strongest possible terms,” Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said in a written statement.
But some also questioned why it took so long for district officials to learn about the booklet and begin investigating.
The officer who first handed it out in May was suspended with pay this week, pending results of an investigation by the Houston Independent School District. Officials refused to identify him but said he was ordered to go to diversity training.
The eight-page handout, which includes a few grainy photographs, purports to offer definitions that will enable the reader to speak Ebonics “as if you just came out of the hood.” Ebonics is a nonstandard variety of English spoken by some black Americans.
The definitions include such terms as “foty: a 40-ounce bottle of beer”; “aks: to ask a question”; and “hoodrat: scummy girl.”
The booklet — subtitled “Wucha dun did now?” — names six HISD officers “and the entire day shift patrol” as contributors. District spokesman Terry Abbott said, however, that a preliminary investigation has cleared those officers of involvement.
The officers did not respond to the Houston Chronicle’s e-mails seeking comment.
The booklet originally was handed out at a May 23 roll call at Barnett Stadium, Abbott said. He said up to 15 dayshift officers and three supervisors attend the meetings.
One of the supervisors immediately collected the booklets, Abbott said.
But HISD leaders said they didn’t learn about the incident until an oral complaint was made to the district’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office on Aug. 13. It was not clear who filed the complaint, and district officials did not have an explanation for the delay in their learning about the incident.
Abbott said HISD Police Chief Charles Wiley “is not doing any interviews because of the fact that it’s an ongoing investigation.”
Saavedra expressed regret about the incident and said he has “mounted a very aggressive investigation.”
School board President Manuel Rodriguez Jr. said, “I’m completely surprised and overwhelmed that it took us so long to find out about it. In today’s age and time, there should be no room for that type.”
As of last school year, nearly 30 percent of HISD’s 202,000 students were black and almost 60 percent were Hispanic.
Some community leaders expressed outrage.
“It does concern me,” said Kashmere High alumna Carolyn Miller, president of the HISD Council of PTAs. “That’s quite unfortunate that an officer felt a need to do that.”
Carol Mims Galloway, president of Houston’s NAACP chapter and a candidate for the school board, said the officer who created the document should be severely reprimanded, if not fired.
“It was really a slap in the African-American community’s face,” she said, adding that she believes black students in the district already are being shortchanged academically.
“We’re paying their salaries with our tax dollars,” Galloway said of HISD police. “It does reflect on the district.”
She also questioned whether a supervisor really collected all of the booklets.
HISD trustee Larry Marshall called the document totally inappropriate, even if it were printed as a joke.
“These are very racially sensitive times,” he said. “It was a huge mistake in judgment.”
Houston activist Quanell X said he will ask today that Chief Wiley and anyone involved in the incident be reprimanded.
“What I’m angry about is that the supervisor did not file the complaint himself,” he said. “The HISD police chief should have done more immediately, once this racist literature was brought to his attention.”