Wythe County Public School officials are investigating possible student involvement in a racially insensitive post shared on social media Wednesday, according to a statement from the school system.
Though he wouldn’t go into detail, Wythe County Schools Superintendent Scott Jefferies said on Thursday that the incident was the same one being investigated by Carroll County School officials on the same day.
The post, a photo that was originally shared on Snapchat, began to make its rounds on Facebook Tuesday night. The photo shows two males and two females holding poster board signs which Mark Burnett, assistant superintendent of Carroll County schools, confirmed as reading, “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I am picking you.”
Burnett said the two girls in the photo, both Carroll County students, made the signs as a way to ask the boys to the Homecoming dance at Carroll County High School later this month. Both boys are reportedly Fort Chiswell High School students, but Burnett said he believed one of them was homeschooled, though he wasn’t sure where he was from.
Carroll County school officials learned of the post through its Stop Bullying app where someone had reported it on Wednesday. They later learned that the girls had gotten the idea from Pinterest, Burnett said. He noted that similar incidences had occurred in Ohio, Florida and other states using the same phrase as a means to ask someone to school dances.
Jefferies wouldn’t confirm where the Wythe County students attend school, but acknowledged that Wythe County students were involved in the incident. He noted that while the incident occurred outside of Wythe County, the school system was still investigating.
According to the Wythe school system’s statement, “. . . if any Wythe County Public School students are in violation of our Code of Conduct, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”
Both school systems condemned the incident.
“Wythe County Public Schools considers this incident to be very serious and does not condone this type of behavior,” its statement read.
Because the incident involved a school event and caused significant disruption, Burnett said Carroll County High School would take disciplinary action. He said the girls have been barred from attending the Homecoming dance, but said he couldn’t further discuss student discipline.
He noted that the girls have expressed remorse for their actions.
Jefferies said school policy prevented him from commenting on the incident or any type of disciplinary action that could be taken by the Wythe County school system.
Both men say the incident will be used as a teaching opportunity.