A group of parents in the Aledo Independent School District in Texas called out authorities in the district for their alleged spineless response to an incident involving some 9th-grade students who held a mock slave auction for their Black classmates on Snapchat.
According to KXAS, the online slave auction game was held by a section of students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus. In the mock auction, the students discussed the amount of money they would spend on their Black classmates and even placed bids. One student reportedly valued a Black classmate at $100 while another was valued at $1 because they disliked his hair. The students also used names including “Slave Trade”, “Ni**er Auction” and “Ni**er Farm” to describe the group.
The school district, in a letter to parents, said disciplinary action had been taken against the students who participated in the game after it was brought to their attention. Some parents, however, registered their displeasure with the contents of the letter, saying the district described the incident as a case of “cyberbullying and harassment” and swayed from emphatically addressing it as a racially motivated one. The word “racism” was not even used in the letter, KXAS reported.
“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism … that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” Mark Grubbs, a parent of former students in the district, told the news outlet. Grubbs also said the incident left him infuriated.
“It makes me sick from the standpoint, ‘Who do they think they are? What gives them the right to think they can do that to someone else?’,” he added.
Another parent, Ella Bullock, said: “I’m still a bit disappointed with the email, it stops short of calling it hate speech.” Nevertheless, Bullock said she was not surprised by the incident. “I was not shocked honestly because of the community we live in,” she added.
Following the backlash, the Aledo Independent School District backtracked on its earlier statement and released another one on Monday, saying the district does not condone racism or hatred.
“Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy,” the statement read.
“More than two weeks ago, the district learned of an incident that involved students from the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus bullying and harassing other students based on their race and launched an immediate and thorough investigation that involved law enforcement. We made a formal determination that racial harassment and cyber bullying had occurred and assigned disciplinary consequences in accordance with our policy and the Student Code of Conduct. This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of color and their families, and for that we are deeply saddened.”
This recent incident, however, turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Grubbs as he withdrew his three children from the district.
“A lot of racism. My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife,” he told KXAS. “My son was never a fighter.”