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'His heart is broken.' School district apologizes for racist photo of black student

A student in an Oklahoma school has been disciplined after circulating on Snapchat this photo of a classmate and using the n-word. The Star blurred out the offensive word.
A student in an Oklahoma school has been disciplined after circulating on Snapchat this photo of a classmate and using the n-word. The Star blurred out the offensive word. Facebook/Ashley Dawn Warner

School officials in Chandler, Okla., have apologized for a racist, "deeply disturbing" photo circulated on Snapchat Wednesday.

During a school assembly, a student in the audience took a picture of a black student who was wearing striped prison garb in a skit on stage.

The picture made the rounds on Snapchat with a caption that read "n***er" for auction Chandler Oklahoma, starting bid $50." It also included a graphic of a Confederate flag.

Chandler Public Schools publicly apologized to the student in the photo. His older sister said "his heart and his spirit are broken."

"The District has no tolerance for hateful depictions and captions regarding any student and has and will continue to address this unacceptable, despicable behavior whenever it occurs," said the school district's statement, shared by local media.

"In addition, districts officials will lean in with an even greater emphasis on educating students regarding no tolerance for actions or words that threaten, harass or bully others because of color."

Chandler is a town of about 3,000 just east of Oklahoma City.

Ashley Dawn Warner, who identified herself as the older sister of the student in the photo, circulated the picture on Facebook in a post that began: "My blood is absolutely boiling."

She wrote that her brother was dressed in a costume for a Positive Peers skit, which school officials said was "specifically for educating students regarding the importance of positive peer relationships."

"He was being taken to jail in this scene and this is what another student posted," Warner wrote. "This is just ridiculous! I know bullying happens, I was bullied all throughout school, but it seems to happen a lot more in Chandler Schools then it should.

"I’m so sick of this racism s**t and disgusted that it’s 2018 and we still let our children call other children 'n***ers.' Absolutely unacceptable."

Warner told Newsweek her brother is handling the incident well.

"But he’s just like the rest of us, words still hurt, and something this hateful and discriminatory being said by a peer ... something that makes you question your worth, your skin color, and your place in this world, that’s not something you can just 'get over,'" she said.

"It definitely impacted him. I know he’s trying to be a tough young man, and he is, but his heart and his spirit are broken."

She wrote on Facebook that she covered up the name of the student who circulated the Snapchat because "I personally don’t need nor do I want 600+ people taking it upon themselves to message and harass the student. The school will be taking care of this I’d imagine after this post has clearly went viral.

"I wanted it made known that the family of the young man pictured will not be tolerating racism or bullying and nor should the rest of our community who has been putting up with it for years! Racism is alive and you’re witnessing it first hand."

In its statement, the school district said it could not, by law, reveal details of the disciplinary action taken against the student who posted the photo. But it did say the student is not at school.

"Our deepest apologies are extended to the student who was the victim of this shameful behavior by another student," the district's statement read. "As a district, we will do our utmost to support this student and the student’s family in standing against actions and speech that hurts and belittles other individuals.”

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