Several Black students were suspended for five days from Yulee High School in Florida after confronting two of their white peers who created a racist Snapchat video. Parents are upset with the district’s response, saying the punishment was unfair considering the white students didn’t receive any punitive action, The Daily Beast reports.
In the video, the two white students can be seen saying racial slurs and laughing at what appears to be their Black classmates. One of them appears on camera with a white hooded sheet over his head. The video was sent to a group of Black students by another classmate who received the video. Upon confrontation between the two groups, a fight broke out among the teenagers.
Parents held a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the situation and decide on a course of action. However, the school district said it couldn’t punish the two white students for the video because the recording took place before they arrived at the school.
“While schools do have jurisdiction to discipline students for their on-line, off campus behavior under certain circumstances, this case did not meet the criteria,” the school district’s assistant superintendent of instruction, Mark Durham, said in an emailed statement, per WJCT news. “In this case the video took place during the summer prior to the beginning of the school year. The two students in the video were not yet students at YHS.”
One of the parents of the suspended students, Matthew Ricks, disagreed with the school’s decision, arguing that its reasoning doesn’t efficiently excuse not punishing the other students.
“I’ve seen that policy used as a way to protect them from the decision they made,” Ricks said. “I don’t believe that is the only way to apply the policy that I read in the code of conduct.”
According to the school’s code of conduct, the school board retains the right to assign “more severe consequences than normal” if the offense seems to be racially motivated. Ricks says he feels the district’s position appears to favor the white children over the Black students.
“Whether it’s true or not is not for me to know,” Ricks said. “But that’s how these kids are seeing it.”
“There’s been no acknowledgement of the fact that because of the way they handled the situation, it makes the players who were the initial victims — for lack of a better term right now — it makes them feel like the school does not support them because of their race,” Ricks said.