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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – After racist graffiti was found on a St. Pete Catholic High School bathroom stall in late January, the Department of Justice and the FBI are getting involved.

The St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP was contacted by the FBI about hosting a listening session to hear their concerns about the safety of minority students. 

Parents and students say the racial incidents that have happened at St. Petersburg Catholic High School are part of a larger problem that needs to be addressed. 

They’re hoping their meeting with the DOJ adds a sense of urgency to improve the environment not just for minority students, but for all students at the private school. 

“It’s just hard to figure out if you’re safe, in your comfort zone or downright scared,” said 15-year-old, David Anderson-Warren. 

The freshman says he experienced what he describes as racial bullying while attending the St. Pete Catholic High School.

“I always knew that the racial stuff existed out there, but to think that it would happen in a school, a Catholic School of all places is disturbing.” he added. 

The Superintendent of Catholic Schools with the Diocese of St. Petersburg previously stated the school has been ‘clear in denouncing racism and prejudice in all forms and that safety is their top priority’.

After his experiences, David says he feels not everyone at the school is showing that principle. 

“It’s not like we’re taking steps forward at this point,” said David. “We’re taking steps backwards” 

In January, a racist threat saying ‘Kill all N-words’ was found on a bathroom stall. 

Then a month later, parents were notified again by the school about another act of vandalism. 

School officials say the minute they discovered the racist graffiti, they immediately took action. The school started an internal investigation,, using an independent investigator. 

Spectrum Bay News 9 was recently told by school officials that the investigation has not been completed yet and that it would be “inappropriate” for them to comment on camera about the investigation before the facts are established. 

Meanwhile, David’s mother, Remonica Anderson-Warren says this is the first time she enrolled any of her children in private school. 

“You try to give your child an extra chance to not be surrounded by negativity. Come to find out, that is where he is at,” she said.

She says she’s attending the DOJ meeting because she wants to speak up for others who may be afraid. 

“They’re gonna hear what these kids are going through and what they’ve been going through that people have been trying to report for the longest, but no one would take them serious,” said Remonica. 

Her son David is left with a difficult decision to make about whether to stay at the school or move on.

“I made a lot of friends . Some I regret, some I wanna keep. If I’m leaving the school, it’s probably for the better,” he said. He believes the quality of his education is dependent on his environment. 

The meeting lasted for nearly three hours Saturday.

Next, the Department of Justice will present the accounts of these families to the United States Attorney’s Office, who will determine if further investigation is needed by the department.

Parents and students say High School’s internal investigation on racist threats lacks transparency. Senator Darryl Rouson says he tried to get a meeting with Bishop of Diocese, but he declined.

— Fadia Mayté Patterson M.S. (@FadiaTVNews) April 9, 2022

Spectrum Bay News 9 reached out to St. Pete Catholic High School for a comment about Saturday’s DOJ & FBI meeting: 

The Principal responded to our newsroom on April 1, 2022 stating that at that time the school had not been contacted by anyone at the Department of Justice in relation to these or any other issues. 

Their statement also said, “St. Petersburg Catholic immediately condemned the racist graffiti found in the bathroom stall and worked to find out who was behind it, including hiring an independent investigator.”

It went on to say, “all issues that have been brought to the school’s attention have been addressed. We remain committed to ensuring that all our students feel safe and welcome in their school.”

The High School also sent Spectrum Bay News 9 a list of 17 things they have done since the first graffiti was discovered, including establishing an anonymous tip line, holding small group listening sessions with parents and students and focusing on racial harmony during school masses. 

We contacted the School on Friday asking for any additional comments and so far; we have not heard anything back. 

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