Updated: February 17, 2020 06:43 PM
Created: February 16, 2020 10:19 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A mother who was punished by her children’s school district said school officials made a quick judgement before hearing her side of the story.
Bernadette Giovanni, mother of five, said she was victimized twice. First, by a racist vandal and then by Grants/Cibola County Schools.
She said it started when she was dropping off her kids and grandkids at school on Feb 7.
"A friend of mine texts me and asks me if I knew I had white power, KKK written on the back of my car. My instant reaction was, ‘What the f*** are you serious?’” Giovanni said.
Giovanni later posted an apology on social media.
“I personally made a Facebook post. Whoever messed with my car, I will find out who you are. It's not funny. It's not hilarious. To anybody who seen my vehicle and got offended, I apologize,” she said.
The problems for Giovanni only worsened after another media outlet ran a report about her without getting the full story.
"Please don't jump to conclusions. You know, thank you to whoever called it in. Sorry, I'm going to say it because, for one, what if something like this really was happening? My children are growing up here too,” she said.
After Giovanni thought the outrage had died down, she received a letter from school district superintendent Max Perez.
“You are requested to have no contact with our students other than your children and grandchildren. You are specifically banned from contacting all of our students while the students are at school or at school sponsored events,” the letter read.
The letter specified certain exceptions to the ban like parent-teacher conferences, but required Giovanni to be escorted by school officials in those cases.
The letter continued to say that Giovanni’s presence at the school in the future would likely be disruptive and that the sign on her car displayed advocacy for a white power hate group. Giovanni said she is Hispanic.
"I wish the school board and those people would've talked to me, or tried to figure something out before they jump to conclusions,” she said.
Giovanni said she plans to push back on the ban, but the superintendent’s letter said he only wants to correspond with Giovanni in writing.
"I just want to know I can be there for my children, no matter what," she said.
A petition in support of Giovanni is also trying to get the ban thrown out so she can attend her daughter’s cheerleading events and son’s basketball games. The petition has over 1,600 signatures so far.
KOB 4 and Giovanni reached out to the superintendent to see if school officials investigated before issuing the ban. So far, no one has returned our calls.
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