Seven Bel Air High School students have been disciplined for their roles in creating a photo of themselves spelling out a racial slur with oversized letters pinned on or held up to their shirts, according to a Harford County Public Schools spokesperson.
“The incident was thoroughly investigated and disciplinary action has been taken against the seven students involved,” HCPS spokesperson Jillian Lader wrote in an email Thursday.
The seven students included six who posed for the photo, which was taken in the school library, and a seventh who took the picture, according to Lader.
She declined to say what type of discipline the students received, citing school system student confidentiality policies.
“This behavior is not and will not be tolerated in Harford County Public Schools, and is not representative of Bel Air High School students or Harford County Public Schools,” Lader stated in her email.
Erin Fierro, of Belcamp, learned about the incident Wednesday night through the father of her niece, who is a Bel Air student. She said her brother wrote a “scathing” post about the incident on Facebook and Fierro then contacted her niece after seeing the post.
Fierro provided a copy of the photo in an email to The Aegis Thursday. It shows six students in the school library wearing shirts, each bearing a letter that, combined, spell out the n-word. The faces of all six have been scribbled over with black markings to conceal their identities.
Fierro said she contacted administrators at Bel Air High School and at HCPS, called the incident “absolutely unacceptable.”
“I think the public needs to know,” she said. “This is 2017, and this is happening in Bel Air High School.”
Lader said in a follow-up email that “as a school system, we welcome and honor diversity, and are committed to facilitating a safe and secure environment for all of our students and staff.”
Lader wrote in the email that in light of the incident, the Bel Air High student body, staff and administration will work toward creating an “inclusive, supportive and respectful learning environment” with support from the school system’s supervisor of equity and cultural proficiency.
“We will continue to take action to address these issues and to improve inclusivity in our schools,” she continued. “In addition, continued professional development for staff will focus on cultural responsiveness and inclusivity.”