September 19, 2022
Liam, Jordan, Devyn, Johnathan*, and Victor all confirm the racial discrimination accusations in the statement.
“There was a presentation given to me about good versus bad protests. And we were shown a bunch of like good activists,” said Johnathan, a d.tech student who protested but wasn’t suspended. “At the end, there was a picture of white supremacists, and they pointed out, and they quote, the plan. This is not what good protests are online. So it felt like we were being compared to white supremacists, which was insane.”
The statement also outlined several new policies, including a suspension for taking a phone out of the pouch without any prior repercussions and the three strikes you’re out rule.
Following the statement was some limited and heavily directed discussion about the protest.
“They allowed us to talk about it for a bit in some classes, and everyone disagreed with the staff. They asked us to write what we wanted to change and like our opinions. But everyone was disagreeing, and so far, nothing has happened, so I didn’t even write anything on it,” Liam said.
That day was not the end of community response to the protest. The school’s inconsistency aggravated parents; a later statement sent out to parents was less thorough and didn’t mention new policies or racial motivations.
“Someone actually pulled out their phone from the Yondr pouch and took a picture of the statement. They sent it to their parents, and one parent put it on a Facebook group for other parents to see. Everyone was upset that the school wasn’t sharing that information with the parents. Then [the director] sent out a revised [statement]. It barely had any of the information sent to us in the first statement,” Jordan said.
The school response to parents also included the racial element that students experienced in presentations.
“They said some messed up stuff to my parents. They called them entitled. And they keeped talking about how we have white privilege. Saying I am privileged, privileged and entitled,” Devyn said.
Students who participated in the protest also felt on edge, according to Johnathan, who witnessed breakdowns from students who feared suspension.
“I didn’t feel safe at school. Multiple kids were freaking out,” Johnathan said.
Although the community of staff, students, and parents at d.tech disagreed about the large majority of responses to the protest, one viewpoint they shared was a disfavorable one to the media response by NBCBayArea.
“Then that article came out. It taints the school reputation,” said Alex*, a d.tech student.
Gray*, a former d.tech student who transferred out going into the 2022-2023 school year, shared Alex’s views.
“I was shocked that the news picked it up because they suspended people often at d.tech. There’d be a big controversy every three months or so, and some kids would get suspended. It’s frustrating; NBC really dramatized and misrepresented it. It feels like they just went at it for the story and didn’t try to cover anything else,” said Gray.
Not only was the response to that article negative, but when posted on Instagram, the comment section revealed much contention.
More frustrations were asserted over the school director’s senior town hall meeting to address community concerns. Held during flex time, where the school director addressed the negative sides of the protests and the image of d.tech but fell short of meeting students’ goals of discussing change.
“Many points are brought up about how the protests were bad. One student was saying how they disagreed with the protests but that the protest also started this conversation about the Yondr purchase. But many were upset that all of the people who had these ideas and wanted to make the changes and start those conversations were suspended or not there. It wasn’t really fair to them, and it wasn’t really fair to us,” Jordan said.
D.tech is a school of change; experimenting with new policies is part of the administration’s goal. That change works for some, but for the students who protested on Aug. 24 and the students who felt that the administration’s response to the protest was harmful, the school is no longer their safe place.
“My friend was trying to give feedback to the principal. They said, ‘this school used to be my dream school; now it feels like a nightmare,'” Johnathan said.
*These names were changed by the authors to ensure anonymity for the sources that were interviewed, in accordance with Carlmont Media’s anonymous sourcing policy.