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Officials investigate sign with offensive language at South Forsyth High

Principal: Banner was part of prank by senior class

POSTED: May 14, 2014 3:30 p.m.
 

SOUTH FORSYTH — Administrators at South Forsyth High are investigating a senior prank that involved the use of a racial slur Wednesday at the school.

Principal Jeff Cheney said a large banner, which included the slur and the words “we made it,” was unveiled about 9 a.m. on an exterior wall of one of the buildings.

“We’re reviewing video footage now, security surveillance on the campus,” Cheney said.

“We’ve discovered that what was on the banner is a lyric from a song by [the rapper] Drake,” he said. “It’s kind of what [the seniors] have embraced as their theme — ‘We Made It.’ That’s the actual name of the song, but part of the lyric involves a derogatory comment.

“When I became aware of it, I immediately went [to where the banner was hung] … and had it removed in probably about three minutes by staff here at the school.”

Cheney said the students involved will face some sort of disciplinary action, but it’s too early to know exactly what those consequences might be.

“We are just at the start of our investigation,” he said. “We’ve identified some images from our video surveillance and now we’re trying to identify the actual students.

“We do know and understand — in talking with several students and trying to get to the bottom of things — that it is a very diverse group of students that were involved in creating and displaying the banner.”

Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for Forsyth County Schools, confirmed that system officials are aware of the situation.

According to Cheney, video surveillance revealed the students who hung the banner and an apparatus used to unveil it were on campus at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“We certainly will move forward with disciplinary consequences based on the disruption to the school [and] the wrong image that it portrays about our school,” he said. “That would be more of a teachable moment and life lesson than disciplinary in nature, but surely there would be disciplinary consequences involved.”

While the banner was only on display for a few minutes, it quickly gained attention through social media websites after students, who are allowed to have their cell phones on campus, took — and shared — photos of it.

Cheney said one image, which was heavily circulated on various websites, shows a staff member “holding his arms up.”

“The kids were cheering him because he was up on the roof,” he said. “They’re not used to seeing staff up on the roof.

“[But] in the eyes of the community, it looks like he’s cheering the banner — and he’s not. He did that because the kids started clapping because he was up on the roof.”

The banner was one of several pranks pulled by seniors at the school on Wednesday, he said.

“They had a slip and slide that they did in one of the exterior hallways that we had to clean up,” he said. “That’s an innocent, fun type of prank … My only concern there is that it disrupts our learning environment.

“But the banner, I was offended and immediately removed because I know that derogatory term is just not appropriate on our campus no matter what the context is.”

 

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