Comments and images were posted in a Snapchat group
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon school district is investigating a student’s involvement with a racist social media group.
A concerned Newberg High School student recently shared screenshots online showing a classmate’s racial slurs and homophobic comments posted in the Snapchat group called ‘Slave Trade’.
Newberg High School principal Tami Erion confirmed in a letter sent to parents and staff Tuesday that the district learned of the student’s involvement with the group last week. Erion said school officials immediately began investigating the “serious and inappropriate incident.”
Erion’s statement reads in part: “We are deeply dismayed that this behavior and activity was exhibited by someone in our community. We condemn actions like these which represent the antithesis of what we believe in and where we stand as a family of the Newberg Nation. As a community, we continue to grapple with issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Newberg High School is committed to ensuring a safe learning environment for ALL students by prohibiting harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, or disability.
Oregon House Majority Leader and House Education Committee Chair Barbara Smith Warner and House Education Committee Chair Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, D-Woodburn, responded to the incident in a statement, saying the student involved in the Snapchat group joked about “Black classmates’ auction.”
“Incidents like this are exactly what makes black students feel like their lives don’t matter. As House Majority Leader and Chair of the House Education Committee, we stand with you in saying that Black lives matter and Black student lives matter,” Warner and Alonso Leon wrote.
“The slave trade was the genesis of centuries of genocide and violence against black communities, displacing, enslaving and hurting millions of families. If we are to heal as a state and as a country, we must understand our history and how violence has been used to oppress BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities to this day,” they wrote.
At a Newberg School Board meeting on Tuesday night, concerned parents spoke about the social media posts.
“To have a student in our community feel comfortable enough to participate in such disgusting behavior is a clear illustration of the racism and discrimination that is rampant in this community,” said Tai Harden-Moore.
Newberg’s father, Brandon Casey, said: ‘A child makes a very bad decision and a bad decision – it has to be fixed. If that’s what happened, that doesn’t mean the city is a horrible, systemically racist thing.
In their statement, Warner and Alonso Leon also encouraged policies banning hate symbols and urged the Newberg School Board to reverse the ban on Black Lives Matter and Pride signs and “refocus on creating an environment safe and welcoming for students.
The board is embroiled in a controversy over its banning of LGBTQ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags and symbols on school grounds.
The board passed the ban in a 4-3 vote in August. Supporters said the BLM and Pride symbols were political and had no place in public schools.
“The timing, especially with everything going on with the school districts here, kind of shows that we have to show the kids that we have to empathize with others,” said Newberg resident Kendall Hazel. .
Numerous BLM and Pride flags could be seen outside homes in Newberg on Tuesday. Chalk art messages supporting the BLM movement and rejecting hate were left outside Newberg High School.
“We remain deeply concerned about the direction counsel is taking, but as far as the trial is concerned, we are still working closely with attorneys from multiple parties to ensure it is as strong as possible,” Drew Gallagher said. , vice president of the Newberg Education Association. said in a statement shared with KOIN. “We posted a comment on our FB page because, you may not know, but the board has just changed its policy that the board chair now has the ability to check public comments and potential commenters. must indicate the subject of their choice and their opinion on the subject so that the president allows them to speak in public [sic], which, as you can imagine, is incredibly overbearing, disheartening, and scary.
Erion said in the statement that an investigation is underway and that the school is “following board policy regarding harassment, bullying and potential disciplinary action.”