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Richardson School District Suspends High Schoolers For Racist Social Media Posts

J.J. Pearce High School Football Facebook page
J.J. Pearce and Richardson High School football teams played each other on Thursday. Before the game, bands from both schools performed the national anthem together.

The Richardson Independent School District has suspended two high school students after they posted racially charged messages on social media.

J.J. Pearce and Richardson high schools have an intense rivalry on the football field. Days before their big game Thursday, images popped up on social media that school district officials say were offensive.

In one image, a white man holds a whip, about to strike a black man. The Pearce High School banner is on the face of the white man. A banner with the letters RHS, for Richardson High School, covers the face of the black man.

Another image shows the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. A man pointing a gun has the Pearce banner over his face. Lincoln’s face is covered with the Richardson High banner.

Chris Moore, spokesman for the Richardson school district, said the images were disturbing and appalling.

“Rivalry week here is something that’s typically intended to be a fun, engaging time where kids can kind of talk to the other students they grew up with and engage in some of this activity that’s associated with most rivalries,” he said. “That said, what took place with these images…there’s no excuse.”

Moore said the Pearce principal learned about the social media posts after getting an email from a concerned parent. The email contained screen shots of the images.

Moore said two students have come forward claiming responsibility for the posts. Both have been suspended from school. A hearing with the two students and their parents will be held.

“Ultimately, there are no criminal charges that will be pursued by law enforcement,” Moore said. “There was nothing that indicated a crime had taken place. However, within the purview of the district, the punishment can range anywhere from an on-campus suspension up to an alternative education center placement off of campus.”

The students could spend up to 45 days in the alternative school. But their parents have the right to appeal if they disagree with the decision.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.