BIG LAKE, Minn. (FOX 9) - Some parents and students in the Big Lake, Minnesota community say the school district's apology following a viral racist prom proposal posted on social media is not enough.
The poster in the picture reads: "If I was Black, I’d be picking cotton. But I’m white so I’m picking you."
"I was very disgusted," said Carrie Hatch, a mom of two students in the school district whose daughter told her about the incident first. "It was a lot of emotions...anger was probably the initial emotion."
Hatch, who identifies as Black, says she’s concerned about her children’s safety.
"I asked the principal do my children need to come to school with full-body armor and an escort to make sure that they’re safe?" she said. "There are not many students of color at the school, maybe less than 10, so I know she’s going to get singled out. I was looking for [school administrators] to give me some kind of comfort and tell me that my child is going to be safe but I got nothing."
A spokesperson for the school district declined an interview with FOX 9 regarding the steps being taken to prevent this from happening again, resources for students who feel impacted by the incident and if the students involved will be disciplined. However, the spokesperson released the following statement:
"The School District is taking this report very seriously and is in the process of investigating this matter. We will be evaluating it under any and all applicable School District policies and will take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to address the situation...Big Lake Schools does not condone racism, in any form. Our school has been committed to implementing the Hornet Way, as a way to develop and guide our students’ character and actions. The Hornet Way teaches the values of respect, honesty, kindness, responsibility, and fairness."
But, students want to see more action taken.
"I want the school district to take accountability," said Samara Pearson, a sophomore at Big Lake High School. "They need to show and set an example of what to do in this situation."
"I would feel more comfortable if they were taken out of the school," said Kayla Larson, a Big Lake High School graduate from 2018. "I just can’t imagine how the people that look like me there at the school can feel loved, accepted, or even respected especially with the weak message the school put out. It didn’t feel like they had our back at all."
Young activists hope this incident sends a clear message to other students statewide getting ready for prom.
"Be cognizant of other people’s feelings and don’t mistake humor for disrespect and racism," said Jerome Treadwell, president of the NAACP Youth Division St. Paul. "People in Black communities are hurting and people I think educating students will help change things like this."
All of this comes as a janitor with the school district was put on administrative leave for posting a video using racial slurs, the district confirmed, but there's no word on if the students involved in the viral video will be disciplined.