A group of high school students in Texas have been disciplined for setting up a “slave trade” messaging group that assigned prices to their black peers.
Messages shared on the Snapchat app at a school in Aledo Texas said one student was worth a dollar and another 100 bucks, the New York Times reported.
The school district conducted an inquiry and found “racial harassment and cyberbullying” had occurred.
But some parents accused authorities of failing to respond appropriately.
Messages posted on the group’s Snapchat, which was reportedly labelled with terms such as ‘farm’ and ‘auction’, said the price set for one student “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad”, according to the New York Times, which said it had seen screenshots of exchanges.
The Aledo independent school district condemned the students’ behaviour in a statement, adding that its investigation had been conducted in co-operation with the police.
The principal of the Daniel ninth grade campus of the Aledo Independent school district, Carolyn Ansley, said the investigation had found that “racially charged language” had been used in violation of the district’s code of conduct.
Mercedes Mayer, the school district’s director of communications, said in an email, “There were disciplinary actions taken in accordance with our policy and the Student Code of Conduct.”
Mayer did not specify how many students were punished or what disciplinary actions were taken.
However, some parents have since criticised the district’s response.
“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” parent Mark Grubbs said.
“It makes me sick from the standpoint. Who do they think they are? What gives them the right to think they can do that to someone else?'” Mr Grubbs added.
Eddie Burnett, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Parker County, said he was “upset” by the news but that it was “not completely surprising”.
“In order to do what these kids did, you had to have already dehumanised your targets,” he said. “That made it comfortable for you to treat them that way.”