SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Tensions are running high at a Spotsylvania high school after photos of students wearing Confederate flags and using racial slurs circulated on social media.
Some of the people who spoke with 8News Friday said there’s division at the school after a group of students took dressing up for “country day” too far.
A video from Wednesday shows a group of students screaming at one another inside Riverbend High School. Parents said the emotionally charged confrontation in the video came after two photos circulated online.
One photo shows a group of students wearing Confederate flag clothing at school and a second photo, sent to fellow students through Snapchat, shows a student cursing while using the N-word. This all comes as Riverbend has its homecoming week.
“My stomach just dropped,” Sherri Brown, a parent with a child who attends Riverbend, said. “It was sickening because that’s learned behavior. Someone taught her that, she wasn’t born like that.”
One student told 8News that hearing about the racial slurs hurt the most.
“All I want is peace,” she said. “I’m 17-years-old, almost 18, and I don’t want to live in a world where it has to be always conflict about my color. We’re tired. We’re tired of the slurs. We’re tired of all of racism.”
Riverbend Principal Dr. Troy Wright said the photos were discriminatory and that the district followed the code of conduct when disciplining the students in both photos but did not provide any specifics with 8News on Friday.
“The picture and the gestures creating a disruption in the building and the feeling of unsafe environment for a lot of our students,” Wright said. “It would call for consequences, which we did follow.”
Some parents told 8News Wright was not tough enough when addressing the problem to other students and some parents over the loudspeaker Friday morning.
Principal Wright said this situation can be a learning experience for everyone at the school.
“We can make this an opportunity for growth for our school and some way turn this negative into a positive and that’s what we would like to see happen,” he told 8News.
The lead school counselor told 8News she’s been meeting with some Riverbend students and she encourages other students to step in if they have any concerns. The district said what happened doesn’t define the greater Riverbend High School community or the school.