The Snapchat groups were called “Slave Trade,” and other titles with racial slurs. In the chats, students from Aledo, Texas, pretended to buy and sell their Black peers, according to screenshots given to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
In one chat, students wrote that they would spend $1 on a classmate and “100 bucks” on another, according to the screenshots.
On Monday, the Aledo Independent School District, announced it had disciplined students from its Daniel Ninth Grade Campus after an internal investigation involving law enforcement found they had bullied and harassed other students “based on their race.”
The district’s leadership condemned the incident, adding that it would not tolerate such actions in the district west of Fort Worth with about 6,400 students.
“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” Aledo Independent School District Superintendent Susan Bohn said in a statement shared with The Washington Post. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”
The district did not share further details about the case, including how many students were involved or how they were disciplined. The district has not provided details about the incident, but local activists provided the Star-Telegram with screenshots of the chats.
In addition to using racial slurs with the words “Farm” and “Auction,” the group had also been named with emoji of a Black man, a gun and a white police officer, the screenshots showed. One student suggested a classmate “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
At least one student who was mentioned as being “sold” in the chats was later sent screenshots of the conversations, one of his parents told WFAA. Tony Crawford, an organizer of the Parker County Progressives, told the Star-Telegram that students mentioned in the chats were traumatized.
“Can you imagine what it’s like for somebody to put a price on your head?” Crawford said. “I cannot imagine the embarrassment and hurt that people you might be friends with are having that conversation.”
Mark Grubbs, a father of three former Aledo ISD students, told KXAS he was sickened by the students’ actions.
“Who do they think they are?” Grubbs said referring to the group’s participants. “What gives them the right to think they can do that to someone else?”
Grubbs, who is Black, said he had taken his kids out of the district over other racist incidents.
“A lot of racism,” he told KXAS. “My son being called out of his name and what not and it got to the point he didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter.”
Last week, the Star-Telegram reported, Daniel Ninth Grade Campus principal Carolyn Ansley sent an email to parents that didn’t mention the Snapchat group, but revealed that there had been “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment.”
Jo Jessup, the parent of a 9th grader in the district, told WFAA parents were upset about Ansley’s email because it used vague language and left questions unanswered. “Part of the issue is parents were really upset that the original memo that came out said nothing about racism,” Jessup told the local station.
Grubbs said that the fact that Ansley never referred to the incident as “racist” is what upset him the most.
“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism … that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” he told WFAA.
On Monday, the district publicly discussed the incident for the first time in a statement. Bohn said the district talked to students involved and their parents soon after being notified about the case “and made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims.”
The school district’s investigation, Bohn said, concluded that “racial harassment and cyber bullying” had occurred, which prompted discipline for all students involved.
“This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of color and their families, and for that we are deeply saddened,” Bohn said.