A group of students at a Texas school set up a slave auction pretending to sell their black classmates on social media.
A screenshot of the Snapchat group called “Slave Trade” provided to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram shows students at the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus in Aledo saying they would spend $1 for one classmate and $100 for another.
A group of students set up the Snapchat group, activists told the newspaper.
“Can you imagine what it’s like for somebody to put a price on your head?” said Tony Crawford, an organizer for the Parker County Progressives. “I cannot imagine the embarrassment and hurt that people you might be friends with are having that conversation.”
The Aledo Independent School District announced Monday it got reports that students were bullied and harassed “based on their race” more than two weeks ago and launched an immediate investigation involving law enforcement.
“We made a formal determination that racial harassment and cyberbullying had occurred and assigned disciplinary consequences in accordance with our policies and the Student Code of conduct,” district officials said. “This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of color and their families, and for that we are deeply saddened.”
The district’s statement did not detail the incident that led to the unspecified discipline for the students, but denounced the use of “inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language” and conduct.
The Snapchat group’s name was changed at some point from “Slave Trade” — with emojis of a black man, a gun and a white police officer — to names including racial slurs and the words “farm” and “auction,” WFAA reported.
One student mentioned in the group later received a screenshot of the conversation, a parent told the station.
Jo Jessup, a parent of the ninth-grader at the school, said the district sent an email to parents last week describing an incident of cyberbullying and harassment that lacked details.
“Part of the issue is parents were really upset that the original memo that came out said nothing about racism,” Jessup said.
A district spokeswoman declined to say how many students were punished for the slave-trading group or what discipline they received, NBC News reported.
A father of three former students in the district said he was disgusted by the students’ actions.
“It makes me sick from the standpoint, ‘Who do they think they are?’” Mark Grubbs told KXAS. “What gives them the right to think they can do that to someone else?”
Grubbs was also upset that district officials hadn’t been clearer from the outset. Its first notice to parents did not include the word “racism,” KXAS reported.
“Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism … that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” Grubbs continued.
Monday’s statement was the first public message issued by the district on the matter.
“There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period,” the statement read. “Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”
The president of the Parker County NAACP chapter told the Star-Telegram he plans to discuss the incident Monday during an Aledo school board meeting.