Raleigh community calling for students' expulsion after video surfaces with racist language

Posted September 22, 2021 11:26 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2021 11:33 p.m. EDT

— A video filled with racist, profane and offensive language is stirring tension at a Raleigh private school.

Some are calling for two high school students at St. David’s School to be expelled for their actions. An online petition has garnered hundreds of signatures, more than 400 as of Wednesday night. The petition called the video "deeply offensive and hurtful to many."

In the video, high school-aged students who attend the school can be heard casually using the n-word. Towards the end of the five-second clip, a student is visibly holding what appears to be an alcoholic beverage.

The clip is bringing out strong emotions from families at St. David's School, a Christian school. Many feel that the students weren't punished harshly enough.

A number of parents and students told WRAL News that not enough is being done. The offenders reportedly received a one-week suspension.

Matt Hillegass, the head of schools, declined WRAL News’ request for an interview and instead shared a letter sent to families over the weekend. The letter reads:

Dear St. David’s community: Many of you have contacted me to express your serious concerns and objections to a video that has been circulated within our community. This video involves multiple Upper School students driving in a car and using extremely vulgar and racist language, including the N-word. The video is deeply offensive and hurtful to many in our community who rightly find this behavior to be repulsive. We know that words have power, and words or actions of any sort, including those originating in popular culture or those spoken in jest, that have the effect of making anyone feel diminished or unwanted are out-of-sync with our mission and are not welcome at St. David’s School. After the video came to the attention of the administration, we immediately began an investigation. St. David’s has taken its first step towards remedial action for some of the students who made and circulated this video. Our investigation is continuing and could result in additional remedial actions for these students and other students. Harassment or retaliation would be just as unacceptable as the language used in the video and we will investigate any alleged acts of harassment or retaliation towards any students. On behalf of St. David’s School, I offer my sincerest apologies to those who have been hurt by these events. To do the work of our school’s mission, it is essential that our students know that they are safe and welcome at our school and that their teachers and school leaders are here to extend care and support. Therefore, we will not tolerate this offensive conduct. We take seriously the challenge to be a school in which every member of the community encounters the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) in our life together, and we recognize that there is important work yet to be done at St. David’s, some of which begins in our own hearts by grace. We will also be evaluating other steps to make sure this unacceptable conduct is never repeated and are proud of the many Upper School students who have already stood up for what is right in this situation. As a final request, further discussion about this incident in casual conversation with each other or viewing or circulating this video would not likely be helpful or edifying, so we do ask for your partnership in directing questions or concerns only to Mr. Carreker, Upper School Principal, or to me, should you have them. Please be in prayer for each other and for our school.

Under the petition, a 2020 St. David's graduate wrote 'as a Christian institution, St. David's holds an obligation to set an example in love, kindness and equality.'

The letter goes on to say "harassment or retaliation would be just as unacceptable as the language used in the video and we will investigate any alleged acts of harassment or retaliation towards any students."​

School administrators said any acts in retaliation won't be tolerated and any alleged acts will be investigated.

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