SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah school officials took “appropriate action” against teen girls shown on video yelling a racial slur while laughing, but a spokesman declined Tuesday to say exactly what they did.
State and federal privacy laws keep student punishment details from being publicly released, said Lane Findlay, the spokesman for Weber School District in the small city of Ogden, north of Salt Lake City.
The white high-school students, three of whom are cheerleaders, made the video about a year ago. One posted it on Instagram last week, Findlay said. It was shared from there and drew widespread online attention.
Findlay said the girls recorded themselves saying a nonsensical phrase and an app played the video backward to produce an expletive and the slur.
NAACP president Jeanetta Williams called the video appalling, particularly the girls’ laughter. Williams, who oversees the tri-state conference area of Idaho-Utah-Nevada, said she talked with the school principal and suggested anti-discrimination education for the girls in the video and the school as a whole.
Administrators have taken the situation seriously so far, she said, and told her there would be discipline for the students seen in the video.
The school district is considering launching a community anti-discrimination education program run by the Department of Justice, Findlay said.
“Obliviously when you have something like this, this inappropriate, this shocking, you have to question, ‘Why did this happen, how can we prevent this from ever happening again?'” he said.
Though the video was made while the school was on vacation and the girls were not on school property, administrators had to investigate because of the disruption the video caused, Findlay said.
Students who are involved in extracurricular activities like cheerleading are also held to a high standard and required to abide by a code of conduct that applies to their actions away from school.
The school district also took administrative action against a history teacher in 2016 after he used the same racial slur in a junior-high history class.
Teacher Douglas Barker said he used it for historical context, but a parent said her son no longer felt safe in class.