Sikh Community Petitions For Charter School Due to Bullying, Clovis Unified Set to Vote on it

CLOVIS, Calif. --  The Sikh community is pushing for a new Charter School at Clovis Unified School District.

They say their kids are being bullied and they want them to go to a school with an inclusive environment.

"I was called a terrorist here and there, I was harassed," said Shivjit Thind.

Shivjit Thind says throughout his childhood, he was bullied because of his faith and for the turban he wore.

He isn't the only one, according to a study by the Sikh Coalition, 54% of Sikh Youth in Fresno have experienced bullying.

To come up with a solution, the Sikh Community came up with The One and Only Academy, a charter school proposed for the Clovis Unified School District.

"A charter school is open to all, it is very inclusive, we want this to be very inclusive," said Harmit Juneja, lead petitioner.

Harmit Juneja, a teacher at Sunny Side High School, is spearheading the petition for the charter.

He says students will learn about mindfulness and will be taught in English and Punjabi.  
"It is about the long term. It is about educating and creating powerful and compassionate communities," said Juneja.

It is up to Clovis Unified to vote on it. In a study released last week, the school board listed their concerns.

One key point being that creating charter schools to protect students from bullying that targets religion or ethnicity could lead to re-segregation of schools.

"We are doing our due diligence looking at the merits of the petition itself," said Kelly Avants, Chief Communications Officer at Clovis Unified.

Harmit says the proposed charter is not only for the Punjabi or the Sikh community and will not be based on religion.

"We don't want the kids to be insulated, it is a true melting pot," said Juneja.

Clovis Unified School District will vote on Wednesday night.

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