More than 30,000 students at a high school in Massachusetts have been suspended and expelled over a Facebook posting that used racial slurs and referred to a Black teacher as a “slag,” according to the state Department of Education.
State Superintendent Patrick Sullivan said Wednesday that the students’ suspension is an “act of civil disobedience,” adding that the school has removed the social media posts.
Sullivan said he could not say if the students were expelled or not.
The students were removed from the school and are being placed in alternative schools.
Sullivan said the students who made the posts have been asked to stay home and “remain away from each other.”
He added that the schools are “committed to providing a safe and positive learning environment for our students and we are committed to the safety of our students.”
He said the state has contacted the district to see if the administrators can take steps to improve the social network.
The State Board of Education has the authority to suspend or expel students for a variety of reasons, including disruptive behavior, academic failure or misbehavior, according to its website.
The school has said the suspensions were for “a number of different reasons, some of which involved students’ posts that are considered inappropriate or racially insensitive.”
The posts included racist comments and derogatory names, including slurs like “f–k n—–s,” “n—– f–k,” “white trash,” “dirty f—” and “bitch,” Sullivan said.
The post, which Sullivan said was sent to at least six students, referred to Black teacher Lisha Smith as a Black slut, a slur for a white woman.
It also referenced an African-American man as “a piece of sh–.”
Sullivan said that students have not yet been contacted by administrators and that the district has taken the steps to make sure the students are treated with respect and dignity.
The suspension of the students came after a similar case involving a school district in Pennsylvania, where at least a dozen students were suspended and several expelled over comments that some school administrators called racist.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is expected to issue a report on the Penn State case this week, which was the latest in a string of recent instances of school officials and officials of a public school district being criticized for their actions.