If there is one positive to emerge from this latest iteration of an all-too-familiar story, it is that the black student who scrawled racial slurs in a bathroom at Parkway Central High School in suburban St. Louis admitted his guilt. Unfortunately, the admission didn’t come until after about 1,000 students staged a walkout on Sept. 23. “We are tired, we are angry, we need change,” sophomore Shayneisha Allen bellowed at Principal Tim McCarty through a bullhorn even though he was standing only a few feet away. (RELATED: Albion College: Another day, another ‘hate crime’ hoax)
A video of a newscast by St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV addresses the seriousness of the problem.
One detail that neither the news report or the administrators bothered to mention was that previous hoaxes of the same sort have been perpetrated by black students at the school. In 2017, for example, graffiti reading “White Lives Matter” and containing a racial slur discovered on school grounds turned out to be the work of non-white student, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As did the current offense. On Sept. 28, the day after the culprit responsible for the latest graffiti owned up to his misdeed,District Superintendent Keith Marty wrote a letter to parents reading in part:
I wanted to follow up regarding racist graffiti in our bathrooms last week. … The evidence led to a single student and the student admitted to writing the messages.
The student responsible is not white, however, this does not diminish the hurt it caused or the negative impact it has had on our entire community.
Our student discipline policy is clear. Regardless of the reason or the individual responsible, these acts are a significant violation of multiple codes of conduct outlined in our policies. The student is facing severe disciplinary consequences and referral to law enforcement for investigation. Parkway will continue to hold students responsible for any behavior that threatens or degrades others in our school community.
We remain hurt by the actions of the student, as it does not represent the values of our community. We cannot presume the reasons a student would do this and it will be important to understand why this happened as we move forward.
There is nothing in the letter urging students — or their parents — not to fly off the handle should yet another incident like this occur. It’s all well and good to acknowledge the hurt it caused the community even though it was a student of color seeking to stir the pot. It is another to underplay the facts as they have emerged.