- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - The principal of St. Stephen’s Indian High School is hoping for an apology from the University of Wyoming after an incident last month in which students from the school were falsely accused of stealing from the college book store.

Principal Cheryl Swiderski Myers said the students were searched without a reasonable cause, raising concerns that they were subjected to racial profiling.

“Their feelings were that they were selected because of their ethnicity,” Meyers told The Ranger (https://bit.ly/1P6Jf1e ).

UW officials who investigated the incident concluded there was no violation of school regulations which prohibit discrimination based upon race.

No citations were issued from the incident that occurred on Sept. 26 when 10 St. Stephen’s students and two chaperones participated in a visit to the university for prospective students.

The students and chaperones were wearing white T-shirts with their school’s name and logo printed in red. They also were carrying UW bags given to them at the beginning of the day.

While six of the students and a chaperone were in the University Store, a patron told store staff that she suspected two males wearing white T-shirts with red letters were attempting to steal a shirt.

UW’s report states the patron who reported the incident made no reference to race.

According to a report from UW vice president and general counsel Rick Miller, the shirts were distinctive because many of the patrons crowding the store were wearing UW colors of brown and gold.

“In accordance with store policy, a store employee called the UW police,” Miller said in a statement.

Searches of the students wearing the T-shirts turned up no stolen items.

Meyers said the two Caucasian chaperones were not searched.

She said she believes the students were subjected to a group search based on their race.

Miller said there is no evidence that the store personnel or UW police made any statement regarding race during the incident.

“There exists no evidence of racial profiling or discrimination,” he said.

According to the university’s investigation, only students wearing shirts that fit a certain description were searched. UW determined it handled the situation in accordance with normal practices and procedures but acknowledged that some moments may have been frustrating for the students and parents.

Meyers said she is not pleased with the outcome of the UW investigation.

“We need more dialogue and more discussion,” she said. “I’m not saying they have to acknowledge there was any fault on their part, but students’ parents were offended. … We had some very upset parents.”

Meyers said she had a good discussion with UW president Dick McGinity about the matter.

Meyers said she would be pleased if school officials simply said the situation could have been handled differently by the campus police and store employees.

“We don’t want to steer a whole race issue, but our students were offended,” she said.


Information from: The (Riverton, Wyo.) Ranger, https://www.dailyranger.com

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