Tension reported in South Arkansas high schools | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tension reported in South Arkansas high schools

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 4:20 PM

Reports are bubbling about election-related tension in one Southeast Arkansas high school and a police call to another.

In Star City, some arguments apparently broke out on racial lines among students yesterday.  According to KATV accounts, on Twitter, one white student wore a Trump mask and a white student or students shouted at black students to go back to Africa. Students gathered this morning outside to pray for peace. The YouTube comes from Southeast Arkansas Weather.

In Hamburg, officers responded to a report of unspecified threat, but a search turned up no weapon. Superintendent Max Dyson said in a message to parents that police and deputies were called because of a rumor of "possible violence."  He said no weapon was found and the staff would continue to monitor the situation. No mention made if this was somehow election-related.

Sources at the school say, however, that the hanging of a Confederate flag upset black students at Hamburg and threats were made today on social media referring to minority students.

Election-related occurrences seems likely to persist. A protest of the coming Trump presidency has been scheduled for the Capitol Friday night. But it is described as "peaceful."

UPDATE: Trump ugliness reported in Conway.

Dollie Spencer, whose grandchildren Erica Briggs, 12, and Erianna Briggs, 11, go to Star City Middle School, and other families of children who say they were harassed by white kids at the middle and high schools in Star City met with Director of Student Services Nathan White after the incident, but could not get a promise from him to call a community meeting to discuss the incident or how the schools would protect children in the future. He told them they could come to the next School Board meeting to air their grievances, Spencer said.

Spencer said that one white boy started with trouble, telling the African-American and Latino children to "go catch the Trump train to Africa or Mexico or Canada." She said other white kids "took their cue" from the the boy, who was wearing a mask of the president-elect, and that the harassment continued throughout the day. At one point, another child said he was going to bring a gun to school to make sure the African Americans and Latinos got on the "Trump train"; today police and state troopers searched children before they could enter school.

Spencer said a black girl was reprimanded after the boy with the Trump mask started recording her as he told her to "catch the Trump train"; she asked him to stop and pushed his hand. The boy claimed he was trying to steal his phone. Spencer said the school would not give details on what the exact consequences for the girl were.

Superintendent John Laffoon and White were unavailable this afternoon to speak to the Times.

Spencer, who with other parents have been monitoring the school grounds from their cars, said her 11-year-old granddaughter was afraid to go to school today, and several kids stayed home.

Parents also complained to the school about what they perceived to be racist posts on the Facebook page of music teacher Glynetta Burnett. Burnett's Facebook page does not now include any racial slurs, but it does include anti-Muslim posts from Franklin Graham as well as other shared posts calling President Obama's policies a disgrace, that prayer should be returned to school and one that says, "How to End Terrorism: 1. Buy a gun. 2. Learn how to use it. 3. Carry it EVERYWHERE."

Spencer said White told parents the school could do nothing about a teacher's Facebook posts, although the Star City School District did fire teacher Philip Holthoff in 2015 for his racist comments on a Neo-Nazi website.

Families will ask the superintendent for a meeting next week.

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