Amara Ifeji, who recently graduated from Bangor High School, dealt with racism throughout her high school years. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Bangor School Department will order an outside investigation into Bangor High School’s handling of racism that Black students have experienced at the predominantly white school. Superintendent Betsy Webb said she ordered the probe after learning of many of the students’ experiences in a Bangor Daily News article.

In the Tuesday article, titled “Racism is my high school experience,” four Black students said white students have called them the N-word and defended slavery and white supremacy in class discussions. Another said classmates have told her multiple times to “go back where I came from.” Students said they reported their experiences several times to teachers and administrators, only to be told they couldn’t do anything and that they should take matters into their own hands.

Webb said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon that the school department will order the outside investigation “given the seriousness of the incidents shared.”

“No student should have the experiences that have been described, and these incidents are unacceptable and extremely concerning,” Webb said. “Immediate action is required to learn more and to gain a better understanding of the culture and climate our Black students experience while at Bangor High School.”

Black students make up less than 3 percent of the student body, and Webb praised the students who came forward with their experiences.

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‘Racism is my high school experience’

Black students at Bangor High School say classmates have called them the N-word and defended slavery and white supremacy in class discussions.

“These graduates were top students, inspiring student leaders, and they made us better while at Bangor High,” she said. “They will continue to make us better as we learn more to build diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism within Bangor schools.”

Michael Alpert, president of the Greater Bangor Area Branch of the NAACP, said the outside investigation sounded “like a good first step.

“But the problem of racism in schools in Maine and Bangor in particular runs very deep. It’s a long history, and what’s going to be needed are a lot of steps,” he said.