Hollidaysburg Area School District officials are investigating a viral video of a racial slur involving four high school students.
On Tuesday, four underclassmen asked a teacher if they could go into a classroom across the hall while the rest of the class watched a movie.
That’s when one student allegedly wrote the N-word and another student recorded it on a cell phone.
“The teacher had eye contact with them, was monitoring them across the hall, but naturally, she wasn’t physically in the room with them and didn’t know what they were drawing on the board,” said Dr. Bob Gildea, the school district superintendent.
The video was posted on social media and was brought to the attention of school officials.
Gildea said the students are cooperating and taking responsibility for their actions, however it should serve as a lesson for students everywhere.
“Students really need to realize the damage that can be done, not just to other people who are offended or affected by their actions, but also to their own personal future because things that are posted on the internet don’t go away,” Gildea said.
Gildea said the district is not planning to change supervision policies because there’s a level of trust that teachers have with high schoolers, which those four students violated.
“There’s the expectation in high school of responsibility. There’s not going to be a teacher physically beside a student every moment of the day,” Gildea said.
The two students involved will face consequences and the district and police are investigating the involvement of the other two students in the classroom.
“I can’t get into details about the specific consequences or punishments that the students are receiving, but it absolutely it carries into the next school year,” Gildea said.
Gildea said he hopes this is an isolated incident that can serve as a teaching experience.
“It’s always the opportunity to look beyond to see if we can do more with our curriculum and the message we’re giving our students regarding tolerance for differences. Not just racial differences, but all types of differences within our school community.”
The district will consider adding tolerance training to the curriculum, holding assemblies or starting a parent-student group to discuss diversity.