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Parents call for change after students at Kentucky high school receive racist messages, threats

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Posted at 8:51 AM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 10:51:22-05

ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. — Parents of kids who attend Rowan County Schools say a racist threat went out to students over the social media app Snapchat on Monday.

Students say a series of threats started circulating on Snapchat through an anonymous question prompt.

"One of my friends got posted just sitting in class doing his homework, called the N-word and stuff on the story," said a student who wished to remain anonymous.

On Tuesday, she and a number of other black students stayed home from school out of fear for their safety.

"It's never a good feeling not knowing what's going to happen, always on your toes, looking over your shoulder," the student said.

Multiple students and parents sent photos and messages of a string of racial slurs directed toward students of color both at school and on Snapchat.

Superintendent John Maxey says they are taking concerns seriously, but the sheriff's office investigation did not find enough solid evidence to take action on the reports.

"Yesterday, they had no reason to feel anybody was in danger, or that there was any credible threat that was an immediate threat to the students," Maxey said. "And of course, a lockdown is reserved for our most emergent, most escalated emergency situations."

Maxey says there were two extra officers at the high school on Tuesday to ease minds.

"We are concerned about their well-being and how they felt in that environment," Maxey said. "So, we wanted to just reassure them, that although we don't feel there's any extra threat out there, we want to bring in some extra help."

Some parents are still keeping their kids home from school, unable to trust that the school hears their concerns.

"I'm at a point where I'm asking myself and the staff, 'What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for them to shoot? Are you waiting to actually see the gun with your own eyes?'" Lexington Giles said.

Giles and parent Roseann Mays are a part of a larger group of parents who meet and discuss racial issues within the school district called "Fighting for our Future."

They say they've been bringing the issues up for years and are frustrated to see their student's safety is now involved.

"There should be a zero-tolerance policy, all the way into expulsion," Mays said. "They should be afraid to threaten other people regardless of what they look like."

Maxey says they are working on changes.

"We certainly don't feel like that we have a wide systemic issue of racism, but we do have small pockets of racism that occur, and we are looking into addressing that," Maxey said.

This story was originally published by Christiana Ford on Scripps station WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.