School district officials in suburban Maryland are investigating an incident involving a white student who posted a photo of herself in blackface on social media, with a caption that used a racial epithet.
The principal of Atholton High School, in Columbia, Md., said in an email home to families Thursday that administrators became aware of the photo as school dismissed Thursday afternoon.
The letter, signed by Principal JoAnn Hutchens, described the image as a “racially offensive and hurtful post” to social media and said school officials were in contact with the student’s parents and would take appropriate action.
“I am committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all students at Atholton High School,” she wrote. “I encourage all students to ‘Think Before You Post.’ ”
Howard County school officials said Friday that students who saw the image brought it to the attention of the principal and that soon afterward the teenager’s parents also contacted Hutchens.
They said the image appeared to have been posted to an app such as Snapchat, and then shared again on other platforms.
The caption on the blackface photo said: “im finally a n-----.”
Howard school spokesman John White said the student, an 11th-grader whom district officials did not identify, was “very apologetic” about what she had done.
White said the district is working with the family as it investigates and would follow its student code of conduct in applying consequences. Under the conduct code, disciplinary action may be taken for off-campus incidents that could have an adverse effect on schools, with possible consequences, including detention and suspension.
Last school year, a video went viral in Howard County showing a white teenager disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement with inflammatory racist pronouncements. In the video, the student — who attended Mount Hebron High School, in Ellicott City — said that “who the [expletive] cares about some black man who dies?” The student went on to say that black lives do not matter because “they are an inferior race, okay?”
District officials said Friday the most recent incident reinforces the need for a community meeting — already planned for Monday night — to discuss the responsible use of technology and social media and supporting an inclusive community. The meeting is for both students and parents, and it is being done with police and the county library system.
“Too many young people and adults post things without thinking about what happens next,” White said. “We want to make sure parents know about the latest technology and that students know there could be ramifications for a bad decision.”