Columbus County school board, community respond after student’s racist video circulates on social media

Columbus County school board, community respond after student’s racist video circulates on social media
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:34 PM EST
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A South Columbus High School student faces disciplinary action after a video of him making racist comments circulates on social media.

A spokesperson for Columbus County Schools says the district was made aware of the video on Friday and confirmed that the person in the video is a student at South Columbus High School. The student has been disciplined, but the spokesperson could not go into detail about what exact action was taken. The student’s parents are cooperating.

As the post spread on Facebook, several parents became concerned that students were making such racist comments. One parent thought about keeping her child out of school unless the issue was resolved.

Columbus County NAACP President Curtis Hill hopes the district will use this incident as a learning opportunity.

“I know that the school system should really be doing a whole lot of different types of diversity, equity and inclusion work within the confines of their learning environment,” said Hill. “It’s good that they have disciplined the child for the statements, but we want to take this opportunity as a learning opportunity because we think, we understand that cross-cultural learning has to occur.”

Hill says he has never seen Columbus County so racially charged in the wake of the racist comments made by Jody Greene, the county’s former sheriff and now sheriff-elect.

“It’s easy to just talk about a statement, but what we’re trying to do, just so they can see the humanity of our people, I think that’s what’s important,” said Hill. “And I think his statements are not reflective of the humanity of all people and Columbus County, so we want to make sure that people understand that.”

Columbus County Schools Superintendent Dr. Deanne Meadows and School Board Chairman Dr. Ronnie Strickland released the following statement regarding the student’s racist video:

“Columbus County Schools was made aware last week of a video containing racist language being used by a student off campus. We find the video highly inappropriate and offensive and we understand the hurt and outrage it has caused among our students, parents and communities. Disciplinary action has been taken.

First and foremost, a school should be a place of safety and belonging for every child and adult. Our doors are always open, and we want to build trust and a positive relationship with our students, staff and communities. We know that we have work to do in this area, and we have taken proactive steps to fulfill this vision by adding a position focused on equity, inclusion and diversity. We also have a student advisory council that advises us on related issues. Our staff receives training regularly to ensure that the goal of creating an inclusive learning environment is met, and our District Strategic Plan has inclusion as a primary component. We cannot control outside factors, but we will address them immediately when it affects our schools, and we will continue to educate our students about the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity.

We strive to provide the absolute best for all of our students, and will continue to focus on improvement in all areas.”