School pupils in Hyndburn have been involved in more than 100 racist incidents in the last two academic years, the Accrington Observer can reveal.
Twenty-one pupils were excluded as a result of the incidents, with another five receiving classroom exclusions. One of the cases required police intervention.
The figures, obtained by the Observer using Freedom of Information rules, show there were a total of 102 cases of verbal abuse, graffiti, provocative behaviour and violence reported in the borough’s primary and secondary schools.
Councillor Munsif Dad, the council’s deputy leader, said: "I am surprised that this figure is so high.
"Generally the relations over the last few years have improved gradually between communities.
"The figures obviously don’t lie so I am certainly surprised. I have lived in Accrington for over 40 years.
"I’m proud to say I have never seen community relations better but there is room for improvements and there are obviously some things we need to work on.
"For many years it was very difficult to report a racial incident but gradually there have been improvements and that could also be a factor."
The figures included 95 cases of verbal abuse, four cases of violence, two cases of provocative behaviour and one case of graffiti.
Six pupils were sanctioned under schools’ isolation policies and four others were placed in detention. Over two thirds of the incidents were dealt with by staff and parent mediation.
Council bosses said they were encouraged by the ‘relatively low number’ of incidents reported and praised the progress schools have made in recent years.
Council leader Miles Parkinson, who is also a school governor, said: "When you are taking into account the amount of primary and secondary school pupils in the borough it’s a low figure and it shows the schools have made great progress over the years.
"Speaking as a school governor I’m sure each school has the right policies in place to sit down with the children concerned and see why they did it and the hurt that has been caused by that."
Tory council leader and former teacher Peter Britcliffe said: "One incident is always one too many but nevertheless children will be children and they do have their differences but with children from different races these become racial incidents."
Bob Stott, director for universal and early support services for children and young people at Lancashire County Council, said: "Prejudice, racism and intolerance have no place in our schools. However, these figures must always be set in context. There are more than 70 schools in Hyndburn with almost 19,000 pupils, and it must be remembered that the vast majority of incidents in schools are concerned with verbal abuse."