By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

In the wake of allegations of racial harassment and violent threats disclosed by a Hartland High School student last week, a larger community effort is being made to examine the issues and seek change.

18-year-old Hartland Consolidated Schools student Tatayana Vanderlaan posted on Facebook about ongoing instances of racial intimidation that she said have been made against her from other students, culminating in a threat to "lynch" her. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the matter.

On Friday, representatives from all five Livingston County school districts, several charter schools, and the Livingston County Diversity Council, met to takes steps to look into why such incidents have taken place and how to prevent them in the future. Diversity Council President Nicole Matthews-Creech said they are in the beginning phase, and a good portion of their time was spent discussing how Vanderlaan and other students’ experiences should guide the committee. She said this was not an isolated incident and that others have had these experiences and may be experiencing secondary traumatization from what is happening.

Matthews-Creech added that at this point, the committee is looking at creating a baseline to see what programs, policies, and procedures exist at each school. Knowing each is different, once they have that survey, they can begin to share and work collaboratively.

One of Vanderlaan’s complaints was that teachers knew what was going on and ignored the racial abuse. Diversity Council member and Director for the Livingston County Dept. of Health and Human Services, Jennifer Tate, said that the effort needs to ensure that not only the community at large is educated regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, but that specifically teachers and administrators are trained to report incidents. She said being afraid to come to school because of the color of your skin or feeling you don’t have adults around to protect you can be a serious issue for kids. A woman of color, herself, Tate said she’s been in situations in Livingston County where she’s not been treated fairly or respectfully and can feel Vanderlaan’s pain. She said when people don’t have the ability to advocate for themselves, it is the job of adults to do that. She called on adults to be the agents of change and said racism "isn’t something you’re born with, it’s learned." Tate said they want to teach kids within the community to respect people for who they are, and not what they look like.

Tate and Matthews-Creech were guests on Sunday’s Viewpoint program. You can hear that conversation by Clicking Here.