Two students at a New Mexico high school have been suspended after posting a “repugnant and hateful” image on the social media app Snapchat.
Two juniors at Albuquerque’s Volcano Vista High School posted a doctored image showing an African-American student surrounded by her classmates with KKK hoods superimposed over their heads, local station KOB4 reported. Students reported the racist photo to school administrators after it was posted to the school’s Snapchat account on Aug. 29.
“It was awful,” Mary Morrow-Webb, the mother of the student in the picture, told the news station last week. “It was frightening. I just really got sick to my stomach. I was afraid for my daughters and for the other children there that are at risk for these types of threats.”
Officials with Albuquerque Public Schools said an investigation was launched and that the two students who posted the image have been suspended for 10 days. One of the teens has been kicked off the football team, too. The boys told school officials the photo was intended to be a joke.
Lamont Webb, the girl’s father, didn’t find the image funny at all. He described the incident as “appalling,” adding that his daughter nor her two sisters who attend the same school have been back since the photo was posted on social media.
“And now they say they can’t go back,” Morrow-Webb said. “And we can’t afford to send our daughters to private school, so what options do they have? They finally have broken my girls. So, what do we do?”
The parents said they’ve reported incidents of racist bullying and harassment against their daughters for the past three years, but the school has done nothing to address it. They said their daughter complained that someone had called her the N-word while another student referred to her as a porch monkey on a regular basis.
APS officials said the school is taking the incident very seriously. As for the past alleged instances of racism, the school now has a new principal.
In a letter to parents, Volcano Vista High principal Dr. Vickie Bannerman denounced the “disturbing” picture and emphasized that the students involved had been “appropriately and expeditiously disciplined.”
“At Volcano Vista High, we expect all students to be treated with dignity and respect, and we deem unacceptable all acts of discrimination and harassment including but not limited to sexual, racial and religious,” Bannerman wrote. “This is what we teach; this is what we live by.”
“On behalf of VVHS, I’d like to sincerely apologize to all who were hurt and offended by this unacceptable prank,” she added.
APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy told KOB4 that the incident has since been taken up with the local police department.
“They came and investigated and are really looking very carefully at whether we should file charges for hate crimes,” Reedy said. “This is something we are looking at very carefully because it’s this serious.”