School Continues To Investigate Racial Slur Incident

Jason Graziadei •

School front

Nantucket High School administrators continue to investigate an incident in which three students were photographed holding up a racial slur.

While the investigation "is coming to an end," according to Nantucket Public Schools superintendent Beth Hallett, any disciplinary actions taken by the administration in the case will likely never be publicly disclosed.

The incident came to light in late March after students brought a photo circulating on social media to the attention of school administrators. The image showed three Nantucket High School students holding and posing with what appears to be Scrabble letters spelling the N-word.

"The school immediately began an investigation and has been working with students and parents about this incident," Hallett told the School Committee on Tuesday. "This particular incident did take place outside of school hours, but it is impacting the student body. Therefore, we are working to create meaningful opportunities for students to process and discuss next steps in order to prevent any further incidents, to learn more about the seriousness of the incident, and to become a part of the solution. We expect these opportunities for students to partake in will happen before April break. I want to be clear that while we are not at liberty to share any disciplinary actions or consequences, it is important for the public to know that we do not condone nor will we tolerate any racial slurs or racist behavior from anyone in our school community."

In the days after the photo was discovered, Hallett said students were "certainly upset" but also wanted to be part of the solution. The Current was informed this week that a video had surfaced in which one of the students in the photo was confronted by one of their classmates in the hallways of the school. Another NHS student told the Current she had overheard classmates  talking about the situation at lunch, and described the environment at the school as "awkward." She said there was almost a fight about the incident inside the school last Friday and remarked how she had seen the students who were in the photo walking around the hallways.

"We thought they would have gotten suspended or something like that," the student said.

As Hallett alluded to in her comments to the School Committee, administrators will not disclose any disciplinary actions they may or may not take.

They are also weighing the circumstances - does the school have the authority to discipline students for incidents that did not occur on school grounds or during school hours, as was the case with the photo of the Nantucket High School students? That question - especially considering social media and online behavior - has been litigated in recent years in different states, including Massachusetts, but remains murky.

"I cannot disclose anything regarding discipline or consequences, but the school is addressing the situation swiftly and appropriately now that the investigation is coming to an end," Hallett told the Current on Tuesday. 

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