A New Hampshire school district is investigating after two 11th-grade students sang a racist musical number for their history class containing the lyrics “let’s kill all the blacks.”
The incident took place late Friday afternoon at Dover High School and was at least partially recorded by another student in the classroom, according to district Superintendent William Harbron. In the video, which was published to YouTube and appears to have been originally posted on Snapchat, two students are seen singing their assignment to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”
“KKK, KKK, let’s kill all the blacks, burn a cross in their front yard and hope they don’t come back,” the students sang. Not all the lyrics in the one-minute video are audible, but they continue the racist sentiments. Other students in the class are heard laughing at points during the song.
According to Harbron, students in the class were instructed to create a jingle about an event that took place in the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. In the wake of the video, the school district — where children of color make up less than 5 percent of the student body — is calling the song “an incident of extreme racial insensitivity.”
In a letter to the district community sent Monday and obtained by The Washington Post, Harbron wrote that the school was working with students and educators to address the “harmful” incident. He added that administrators are “deeply concerned” about the incident, as well as the emotional toll that it could take on the district community.
Harbron acknowledged in an interview Monday afternoon that the instructor did not intervene during the students' performance. He added that the school’s principal is continuing to gather information about what happened.
“What we are much more concerned about is making sure that we use this opportunity to really learn from it and make sure business is done differently, and that all students are respected and regarded — regardless of their background, their race,” Harbron told The Post. “I think that’s more of a concern for us right now.”
Regarding disciplinary action against the two students, Harbron said administrators “have not crossed that bridge.” While the students, who are not being identified, were not specifically instructed to address the KKK in their song, it did meet the teacher’s general description, he said.
“From our understanding, the students were only doing the assignment they were asked to do,” he said.
The district has a zero-tolerance discrimination and harassment policy applicable to staff and students, Harbron said. The investigation will determine whether there were any violations of that policy in Friday’s incident, he said, and the district will respond appropriately depending on what it learns.
Harbron said that district leadership was being trained in dealing with biases — a conversation he had planned to expand to staff, students and the larger school community.
Friday’s incident has given new meaning and urgency to that project, however.
“We don’t only need to deal with what occurred, we need to deal with how to change the culture so something like this does not repeat itself,” Harbron said. “So all students feel safe in the community and feel respected in the community, regardless of your background.”
According to its website, the Dover School District is made up of about 4,200 students. Dover High School Principal Peter Driscoll did not immediately respond to an email and phone call requesting comment on the video Monday afternoon.
Correction: Earlier versions of this story referenced the “Restoration” period after the Civil War, instead of “Reconstruction.”