Community outraged after high school seniors pose for picture spelling out racial slur

Posted at 3:17 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 17:17:59-04

A group of Southern California high school students face disciplinary action after spelling out the n-word with lettered T-shirts at a senior picnic.

The Escondido Union High School District this week confirmed that about 10 students at a senior event "made a poor decision" by participating in the stunt involving the racial slur, KGTV reported.

"We are a campus that prides itself on inclusion and embraces diversity," Principal Adriana Lepe-Ramirez said in a statement.

"We will not tolerate actions that send messages of racism and promote divisiveness."

The statement said Escondido High School, district officials and local police were investigating the incident, the station reported.

"Parents and guardians of the students involved are being contacted by school administrators, and appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken," the statement said.

During the senior picnic, students at the school north of San Diego wear lettered shirts and are photographed spelling out words while standing side by side, the station reported. The words are usually approved ahead of time but some students spell out their own words after the official photo is taken.

The district statement said the activity was "not aligned with Escondido High School's culture, values or history."

"We all need to understand the power of our words and actions, and we must take responsibility for the decisions we make each and every day," Lepe-Ramirez said.

"At Escondido High School we will continue to work every day to build a culture of family and unity across our community."

Cade Pannell, a former student who saw the offensive photo on social media, told KGTV the image made him angry.

"It hurt me personally," he said. "Whether they thought it was a joke, it's not. And if you do think it's a joke, I think that's very ignorant of you."