Parents, students say there is culture of racism at private high school in Arvada

ARVADA, Colo. -- Students and parents protested Tuesday night outside Faith Christian Academy because they say there is a culture of racism at the private school that needs to be stopped.

“The children feel like they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want with no accountability,” parent Nancy Felix said.

“There’s a culture of silencing, of denial, of not having a conversation, of no repercussions, no accountability from the current superintendent and principal.”

Felix has been sending her now-18-year-old daughter Remya to Faith Christian since she was in second grade.

“The school does provide a really, really good education, but there has always been an undercurrent, an undertone of some racism and bullying,” she said.

Felix said her other daughter goes to Arvada West High School, which has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying, and the family has not had problems there like they do at Faith Christian.

“I’ve had kids call me the N-word all the time. That’s probably not even the worst thing, honestly,” Remya Sinha said.

“Black lives don’t matter. You’re only smart because you’re Asian. A teacher has called other children ‘blackies’. She has said that women should be chained to the stove,” Felix said.

She said she has gone to school administrators several times with concerns about racism.

“Oh, they’ve prayed with us, cried with us. Said, 'Oh, we’re so sorry.' And then nothing gets done,” Felix said.

In January, one of the teachers decided to host a chapel, which is like an assembly, focused on the topic of racism.

“And that’s when the firestorm happened,” Felix said.

White students and their parents reportedly felt uncomfortable with the dialogue and content of the presentation.

After the chapel, the teacher who organized it wrote a letter saying, “I soon realized that several students and parents were very upset with the chapel. They got the impression that the panel was trying to guilt and shame our white students and call them all racists.”

He went on to explain in the letter that was not his intent and he was saddened the material was interpreted in an accusatory tone.

Felix said the parents of several white students held a meeting following the chapel and minority parents were not invited.

“I pay tuition just like everybody else so I walked in there late and demanded to be heard,” she said.

Felix describes the meeting mostly as requests from parents for the teacher to be fired.

“I don’t think I can describe how hateful those parents were and how racist those parents were and the feeling was surreal,” Felix said.

“One of the parents actually stood up and said if I wanted diversity I’d go to Manual High School.”

In a letter to parents after the chapel, school administrators said, “We believe that the topic of racism is an appropriate one to be addressed at FCA and should not be ignored, and our desire was to tackle this challenging topic in an informative way.

“We recognize in this instance we did not effectively accomplish our goal and there were flaws in that delivery. We wish this wasn’t the case, however, we are committed to improve and as we move ahead.”

Parents said the teacher who led the racism chapel was fired at the end of February. The school has not provided an official cause for the personnel change.

“I went to the principal and I said you can’t fire the only person these children have to go to that’s safe that they trust because he tried to do something that was, in my opinion, really good,” Felix said.

No one from Faith Christian returned calls seeking comment.

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