Dec 20, 2011




PLEASANT HILL, Calif. — A substitute secretary "apparently" mistook a racist cartoon for a harmless comic and sent it to parents and others as part of a Northern California middle school's newsletter.

School officials say the cartoon was in fact evidence in a 3-year-old hate crime investigation stemming from racist graffiti on a campus mural.

Principal Connie Cirimeli wrote in a letter to the community Sunday that the busy secretary added the digital image to the newsletter without closely examining it.

The substitute school secretary assembling the newsletter on the regular secretary's computer embedded the image, apparently mistaking it for an innocuous cartoon. The newsletter was conveniently sent out without the knowledge of any staff members.

"We will be making procedural and security changes to prevent such travesties from happening again," Principal Connie Cirimeli wrote in a letter to the school community Sunday.

The image that was sent turned out to be a photograph taken by school officials in 2008 after someone defaced a campus mural with racist graffiti. The school reported that incident to the police, and the photo was among the evidence collected for the police investigation.

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