GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Several Brookwood High School students involved in spelling out a racial slur during a marching band performance at halftime of a weekend football game have admitted to planning the whole thing, according to the school district.
In a letter to parents and students, Brookwood High School Principal William Bo Ford Jr. said the investigation into the Friday night incident found that three seniors planned and executed the stunt.
Ford said a fourth student, who carried one of the letters spelling out the racial slur, appears to have agreed to go along with it “at the last minute.”
“In our interviews, the students -- two of whom are African-American, one of whom is Asian, and one of whom is Hispanic -- indicated that this was intended as a joke, one that they thought would be funny,” Ford said in the letter. “However, they acknowledged that they knew this racist term was not acceptable.”
A parent told Channel 2 Action News she and others will be meeting with the NAACP this week.
Students Channel 2's Tom Regan spoke with said the prank was anything but funny.
"It's just not right. It's messed up for that to happen," student Allen Reed said.
"I'm black and Hispanic, and I don’t think being called this is right at all," another student said.
Channel 2's Nefertiti Jaquez spoke with a parent of one of the students at the center of the controversy.
In an exclusive interview, Michelle Muñoz Montes refused to defend her son’s actions.
“I am severely disappointed with him, all of them. With everything that is going on right now in our nation and the state, with the election itself,” she said.
The mother is denouncing the prank her son and his bandmates pulled at Senior Night, when using their instrument covers to spell out a four-letter slur that starts with the letter "C."
Montes said her son was the band member parading the letter “C.”
"I don’t know where he got it from, or where they got it from or why they thought it would be really funny,” she said. "It's harmful, hateful, and very regretful. Let's make it a teachable moment and grow from it."
Ford said two more students weren’t involved in the planning and execution but gave “false information to school officials.”
"All six of these students will receive discipline consequences commensurate with their involvement in this incident,” Ford said in the letter.
Read the entire letter below:
"I am following up to you on my communication from over the weekend regarding the situation that occurred during our band's halftime show on Friday night. As promised, we started an investigation into this matter, and I wanted to share with you our current findings and the steps we are taking with the students who were involved. After extensive interviews with many students, we have determined that three seniors intentionally planned and executed the use of the sousaphone covers to spell out a completely unacceptable, racist term. The fourth student, a junior, who carried one of the letters spelling out the word, appears to have gone along with the plan at the last minute. However, all four of the students knew what was going to happen and knew what they were spelling out during the halftime show. In our interviews, the students-- two of whom are African American, one of whom is Asian, and one of whom is Hispanic - indicated that this was intended as a joke, one that they thought would be funny. However, they acknowledged that they knew this racist term was not acceptable. We have identified two other students who do not appear to be involved in the planning and execution but did provide false information to school officials. All six of these students will receive discipline consequences commensurate with their involvement in this incident.
I am hurt and disappointed in these students and their actions that have stunned our community. As you all know, this is not who we are. Brookwood is proud to be an inclusive and accepting school community. This is a teachable moment for all of us, and students need to be aware that their actions and words have consequences.
We are wrapping up our investigation; however, in an effort to be transparent and responsive to our community, I felt it was important to share our findings with you as quickly as possible. I have heard from many of you since my first communication, and, unfortunately, I have not been able to get back with all of you. As you would expect, our first priority was to conduct a thorough and fair investigation into this matter. That said, I appreciate your patience and support and will be reaching out to those who have contacted me. It is also important for us to unite in support of our program and student and staff leaders of our award-winning band. I have faith in our students and community that we will rise together and become stronger in this challenging time. I hope that our program, school, and community will not be judged based on the unfortunate decisions and actions of a few developing teenagers. As always, thank you for your support of our students and school."
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