Alleged threats on social media have raised questions about student safety, prompting a New Jersey school to take extra precautions by upping the presence of police on campus.
“All I know is that they made this racist video and put it out on social media and they made a threat to the school,” said Jenna Heckmann, a senior at Maple Shade High School.
According to CBS Philly, it’s unclear whether there were actual threats made against the school and its students, but officials thought it best to be extra cautious anyway. A letter sent home to parents on Monday, Feb. 19, noted claims of racist incidents and reassured families that the matter was being investigated.
“…We are currently addressing and handling any and all incidents of discrimination that, although did not originate in school, have caused a major disturbance in our educational setting,” school Superintendent Beth Norcia wrote. “We’re meeting with students who’ve experienced incidents of racial discrimination that have not been previously brought to anyone’s attention.”
“We do not tolerate any forms of racial discrimination or bullying of this nature in the Maple Shade School district,” she added.
Norcia wrote that school officials were alerted to someone not affiliated with the school making social media videos about Maple High students. The videos accused some students of being racist toward other races, according to the letter. Students and parents who saw the alleged racist videos said they featured several female students in blackface. One of them even says a racial slur.
“It’s just upsetting that kids find something so serious and they make light of it. I just don’t understand how the kids don’t realize that it’s wrong,” Debbi Heckmann, Jenna’s mom, told the news station.
In her letter, Norcia noted that some of the racially charged posts were from last year and have already been addressed. However, new material has come to school leaders’ attention and is being investigated.
Students have planned a peaceful protest for this week to shed light on what they see as racism at the school.
“The school wasn’t doing anything about the situation, so we decided we will,” Ciara Manning, a seventh-grader at the school, told Philly.com. “We are going to speak for everyone.”