District Probes 'Shameful Incident' at Middle School

6 middle school students used giant letters to spell out racial slur
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2022 9:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Six Florida middle school students who used large letters to spell out a racial slur can expect the "appropriate disciplinary consequences," the district says. The Martin County School District launched an investigation after a photo appeared on social media of the male students standing outside Hidden Oaks Middle School with letters that spelled out the n-word, CNN reports. District spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo tells WPTV that an art project in which students create 3D letters of their initials "was unfortunately taken to a different level by some students who made an extremely poor decision."

We "unfortunately can confirm that the photo is authentic," Superintendent John D. Millay said in a statement. The district is "appalled and saddened by this incident which is contrary to our values, and the ideals that are instilled in our students," he noted. Millay said federal law bans the district from identifying the students involved or the "specific disciplinary actions taken." According to the state's Department of Education, 6.3% of students in the district are Black, 54.6% are White, and 34.1% are Hispanic. At a school board meeting this week, community members called for the district to hire more Black and Hispanic teachers and expand teaching about racism.

Martin County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Christine Christofek said that while the state attorney's office says it appears no crime was committed, patrols around the campus have been stepped up out an abundance of caution, TCPalm reports. Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, who went to middle school and high school in the county, condemned the incident in a tweet Tuesday. "This type of behavior is completely unacceptable," he wrote. "And if the school fails to act it means this type of behavior is allowed." The district replied, saying it has "zero-tolerance for "hurtful or discriminatory messaging of any type." (Read more Florida stories.)

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