Last week, racist graffiti was found in multiple bathrooms at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri.
Students took the opportunity to skip class by staging a protest walkout, with some students cursing at school administrators and others crying, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Students took turns claiming they had been the victim of prejudice. Parkway School District Superintendent Keith Marty sent a letter to parents on the day of the walkout to condemn the racist messages.
“Students and staff are hurt, angry and feeling outnumbered by those who seem willing to stand by and watch without taking action to stop it,” Marty wrote.
“These acts are a significant violation of multiple codes of conduct outlined in our policies,” he added after informing parents that the school and local police department had launched investigations. “There will be no tolerance for those who choose to purposely degrade others.”
Racist graffiti was found in Parkway Central and allegedly at Parkway North. At Parkway Central, the messages contained a racial slur and a statement calling for the deaths of black people. There is no information about what was allegedly written at Parkway North.
Marty also said in his letter that past incidents had incurred “significant consequences,” including, “extreme and lengthy suspensions; legal prosecution from police; transfers to different schools; loss of privileges, activities, athletics and events; and restitution to those harmed.”
He also noted that “nearly 40% of Parkway students are non-white.”
On Tuesday, school district officials announced that a black student admitted to writing the racist graffiti, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Marty released another letter to parents — and in a rare move — noted that the perpetrator’s race “does not diminish the hurt it caused or the negative impact it has on our entire community.”
“We cannot presume the reasons a student would do this and it will be important to understand why this happened as we move forward,” Marty added.
He also said in his letter that the vandalism was a “significant violation of multiple codes of conduct” and was referred to law enforcement, adding that the perpetrator would face “severe disciplinary consequences.”
A district spokeswoman told the Post-Dispatch that Parkway North was “very close” to finding out who wrote the graffiti at that school. School officials told the outlet the two incidents are not believed to be connected.
One student who participated in the walkout told the outlet that while it was “embarrassing” to find out the perpetrator was black, it didn’t change the message of the protestors and hoped school administrators would put in place a policy that would keep racist statements from being made.
“If we’re going to a school that is very diverse, that’s probably one of the first things that should be done,” the student said.
This was the second time a non-white student wrote racist graffiti at a Parkway high school.