By Jon King /

The head of Michigan’s civil rights agency is speaking out on recent allegations of racial intimidation made by a Livingston County high school student.

James E. White, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, issued a statement today in response to reports of racially motivated harassment and bias targeting Hartland Consolidated Schools student Tatayana Vanderlaan.

Earlier this week, the 18-year-old Vanderlaan posted on Facebook that she is repeatedly called racist names while attending Hartland High School, including the n-word, and that in one instance she was ridiculed about her hair and her appearance, and that a teacher “heard it all and said nothing.” She said she chose not to attend school for about three weeks because she was scared to return as a young Black woman in a school that is supposed to be “safe & stress free” but “did not feel safe or comforting at all.”

In response, White said he was “very troubled by the reports of what this student has been facing for months. At a time when she should be navigating the day-to-day challenges of high school, she has had to deal with this unacceptable situation. I applaud Tatyana for her bravery in bringing this situation forward.”

“Our primary concern is for her safety and well-being, and that this harassment is brought to an immediate end. I am also disturbed by reports that teachers and school administrators were unresponsive when this situation was first brought to their attention. The Department has been in contact with the school to assist in evaluating their policies and to offer training help. We will also offer our assistance to Ms. Vanderlaan and her family, determine if there have been violations of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and decide on our next course of action.”

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is currently conducting an intimidation complaint after Vanderlaan said had to be escorted off campus Tuesday due to a threat of being “lynched.” Hartland Superintendent Chuck Hughes sent out a letter to families later that day stating the district does not “take the allegations lightly and will do everything possible to ensure that all children are safe and welcome at school every day.”

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and working to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. It also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to