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Decatur High School investigates ‘racist audio recording’ involving student

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Decatur High School investigates ‘racist audio recording’ involving student

Decatur High School. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Warning: This story includes quotes from a racist audio clip that may upset some readers. 

Decatur, GA — Decatur High administrators are investigating a “racist audio recording” involving a student, according to an email obtained by Decaturish.

Principal Rochelle Lofstrand — who recently returned to the job after being reassigned while City Schools of Decatur investigated her response to racist remarks made by a teacher — emailed parents to inform them about how the school is responding to the incident.

“On Wednesday, April 12th, DHS and CSD Administration became aware of a racist audio recording of a DHS student that was shared in a group chat on social media and has since spread to the larger community,” Lofstrand wrote in the email. “This is being investigated by DHS administration.   The audio clip contains harmful, hurtful, and offensive language. Our current emphasis is to investigate the extent to which this incident is covered in the current CSD Code of Conduct and Restorative Practices Handbook. Regardless of how this incident is or is not covered in the Code of Conduct, we will take steps accordingly to address the behavior and to support students and staff to begin to repair the harm caused.”

Decaturish received a copy of the recording, which features a student making an expletive-filled statement about owning and physically harming slaves. The student orders the slaves to “pick cotton” before he whips them, before ordering them to carry him and his family in a carriage.

“Y’all are gonna be pulling it,” he says. “I don’t need no horses because I have slaves.”

Phil Cuffey, co-chair of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, called the audio clip “just so disturbing.”

“It’s symptomatic of the work that’s yet to be done on equity in our community,” Cuffey said. “Overall, we just have a lot of work to do and people should not put their head in the sand thinking things are better than they actually are. I feel for all of our students, but especially Black and brown students, who are subject to this kind of insult and injury on a daily basis, it seems. This is a form of aggression. It’s a form of disrespect.”

Lofstrand said the school is sharing this information because administrators are “concerned about the well-being of all of our students and staff.”

“Please talk with your students about inappropriate, racist statements that they may have made or heard whether online or at school,” Lofstrand wrote.” Racist language and behavior is not acceptable or tolerated in the DHS community, and we wish to support any student who has had to experience it.  If your student or a staff member needs any immediate support, please reach out to the Decatur Student Center, housed in the Decatur Career Academy.  The counselors are ready to provide immediate support for DHS students and staff.”

This is the second major racist incident to roil CSD this year. In December, a teacher used a racist slur in class. That prompted a walkout, a town hall, and an evaluation of how CSD handled the incident that resulted in a list of recommendations for the school district.

While Lofstrand returned to the job, the teacher who used the slur has not. He is currently providing “virtual physics tutoring” for the remainder of the school year, according to an email forwarded to Decaturish. He won’t return to campus this year, and there’s no word on if he’ll return next year.

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