Confrontation at Wake Forest High shows teacher using non-physical means to de-escalate situation
The Wake County school system has been hit by a second racially charged viral video in a week – a social media post showing three Raleigh middle school students making racially offensive comments.
The video shows three students from Leesville Road Middle, who’ve since been disciplined by the school, making derogatory remarks about different racial and ethnic groups along with chanting “KKK.”
The Leesville video comes as Wake school officials have been dealing with the fallout of a recent video of a physical altercation at Wake Forest High School that allegedly occurred because of racist remarks made by a student.
Wake officials say they’re discussing what more North Carolina’s largest school district can do to address the issues raised by the videos.
“It’s disturbing,” Lisa Luten, a Wake schools spokeswoman, said. “It’s concerning, and it’s something we’re having conversations about whether a larger action needs to be taken.”
In the Leesville video, the students can be heard saying “if you’re in America, we don’t accept” the n-word, Jews, Arabs or Hispanics.
Here at Leesville Road Middle School, the expectation is that we adhere to high standards for all students. This video violates those standards, and its messages will not be condoned in our school.
Cindy Kremer, principal of Leesville Road Middle School
“Go back to the fields of Alabama,” a student says in the video. “Go back to the factories in Mississippi. You don’t deserve freedom.”
The video also has the students chanting “KKK, KKK.”
Cindy Kremer, the school’s principal, left a voicemail message with parents Wednesday telling them how the school has responded.
“Here at Leesville Road Middle School, the expectation is that we adhere to high standards for all students,” Kremer said in the message. “This video violates those standards, and its messages will not be condoned in our school.”
Kremer said the students had posted a music video on a music app on Tuesday that was shared with other students. She described the video as “a racist rant filled with racist imagery.”
Kremer said a parent had brought the video to the school’s attention Wednesday morning and that a subsequent investigation identified the students who “have received appropriate disciplinary action.”
Under the school district’s Code of Student Conduct, students can be disciplined for their off-campus activity. Luten cited examples such as cyberbullying or any actions that could reasonably result in a disruption in the operation of the school or the safety of individuals.
Luten said federal privacy laws prohibit Wake from saying what specific action was taken against the students. But Tionda Holt, an African-American parent at Leesville Middle, said families have heard that the three eighth-grade students were suspended for three days.
Holt said the punishment needs to be more severe to send a stronger message that the video won’t be tolerated.
“That video represents terrorism,” said Holt, who met with Kremer on Thursday to ask for a stiffer suspension. “That is inciting hate. Someone could have seen that video and gotten riled up.”
Holt contrasted the three-day suspension with the 10-day suspension initially given to Micah Speed, a Wake Forest High student who was shown on a video pulling a white classmate to the floor twice on March 2, including once after being called a “black piece of (expletive).”
Speed’s suspension was later reduced to five days. His mother has said Micah’s actions were triggered by months of racial harassment and a death threat from the student that were not dealt with by the school.
The Leesville and Wake Forest videos show the school system needs to do more to address racism and bullying, according to Letha Muhammad, a Wake parent and leader of the Education Justice Alliance, an advocacy group that promotes reducing school suspensions.
“My hope is our school district responds quickly and boldly and recognizes that there are issues around race in our schools,” she said. “It’s not just with students but with faculty and staff.”