HOUSTON – A school district suspended a police officer as it investigates his distribution of a "Ghetto Handbook" and the three-month lapse before top district officials were informed of it.
The eight-page booklet, subtitled "Wucha dun did now?", was handed out to about 15 Houston Independent School District police officers at a May meeting, district spokesman Terry Abbott said. Officials declined to identify the officer who handed them out, but said he had been ordered to attend diversity training.
A supervisor immediately collected the booklets, Abbott said, but district officials said they didn't learn about the incident until someone complained to the district's Equal Employment Opportunity Office in mid-August.
"This publication was completely reprehensible and HISD condemns it in the strongest possible terms," Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said in a written statement Thursday.
He said he has "mounted a very aggressive investigation."
District Police Chief Charles Wiley had no comment, Abbott said.
The booklet billed itself as a guide to Ebonics, teaching the reader to speak "as if you just came out of the hood." It included definitions such as "foty: a 40-ounce bottle of beer"; "aks: to ask a question"; and "hoodrat: scummy girl."
The booklet names six district officers "and the entire day shift patrol" as contributors. Abbott said a preliminary investigation has cleared those officers of involvement.
Last year, almost 30 percent of the district's 202,000 students were black and almost 60 percent were Hispanic.
Carol Mims Galloway, president of the Houston NAACP chapter, said the officer who created the book should be severely punished or fired.
"It was really a slap in the African-American community's face," said Galloway, who is running for the school board.
"We're paying their salaries with our tax dollars," Galloway said of the district police. "It does reflect on the district."
School board member Larry Marshall said the document was inappropriate, even if it was meant to be a joke.
"These are very racially sensitive times," he said. "It was a huge mistake in judgment."