Sequoyah High School students disciplined after racist social media posts

Sequoyah High School students disciplined after racist social media posts
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
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CANTON, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Friday, district leadership confirmed they disciplined two Sequoyah High School students for “derogatory” language made in social media posts earlier this week.

Atlanta News First has seen two of the posts. In one post, a White teen wrote he doesn’t apologize for how his ancestors treated Black people challenges the need for Black History Month. The second uses the N-word in a derogatory manner.

The posts were made on Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month.

“These students, who have been identified and are being disciplined, used unacceptable derogatory language to describe others in a private exchange during the school day that then was shared on social media,” said Robert Van Alstyne, Principal of Sequoyah High School, in a letter to parents.

“Please know that we have no tolerance for such language in our school, and any students who engage in it will face school discipline. We appreciate the students who brought this incident to our attention,” continued Van Alstyne.

The Cherokee County School District superintendent declined an on-camera interview addressing the incident, but said in an emailed statement:

“We do not tolerate racist or otherwise derogatory language in our schools, and our code of conduct and response to such incidents makes that clear. Every high school has a student organization dedicated to diversity and the importance of valuing every person. We additionally have a diversity committee made up of students from schools across the district that was formed to provide me and my senior staff with feedback. We will continue to use these groups as a way to improve our school district for all students.”

This incident comes less than a year after players from the Brookwood Girl’s Lacrosse team, also in the Cherokee County School District, said they heard racial slurs from student fans during a playoff game at Cherokee High School.

“The heckling became more aggressive, more direct, more racially motivated,” said Aja Thomas, goaltender for the Brookwood girl’s lacrosse team, in an April interview with Atlanta News First.

In March 2021, the district’s school board approved the hire of its first administrator focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

But after pushback from parents about the potential of Critical Race Theory curriculum, Cecelia Lewis resigned in May.

A district spokesperson told Atlanta News First that the role of a DEI administrator has not since been filled, but instead, their job’s duties are now included in other employee’s responsibilities.

“For example, the chief operations officer coordinates meetings with the districtwide student diversity group; our recruitment coordinator oversees a team of diverse educators who help with recruiting efforts at HBCUs and colleges with strong Hispanic enrollment; etc,” said Barbara Jacoby, Chief Communications Officer for Cherokee County School District.