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School district seeks to punish student for off-campus ‘racist’ Snapchats

An Indianapolis school district is looking into “legal avenues” by which to address a student’s racially insensitive Snapchat posts.

The posts in question mocked a Sikh man as a potential terrorist during an airline flight. Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims due to their turbans.

The student’s posts — screencapped by, among others, Trinity University religion professor Simran Jeet Singh — said “Never mind (sic) I might not make it to Indy” under a photo of the turban-garbed man, with subsequent “updates” stating “Please god just let the man sleep,” and “I’m still alive.”

The Indianapolis Star reports Professor Singh tweeted out (using the hashtag #FlyingWhileBrown) “As a Sikh who flies frequently, I’m no stranger to the uncomfortable stares and misguided fears people have of me.

“I think twice about getting up to use the restroom. I feel self-conscious when opening the overhead bin to take something out of my luggage.”

Meanwhile, the Eastern Hancock County Community School Corp. called the posts “deeply offensive” and said they did “considerable damage to many individuals.”

It posted on Facebook: “Eastern Hancock administrators and staff do not condone, nor can we justify this type of behavior for any reason.”

From the story:

“As an educational institution, our priority is to prepare students to become successful members of a diverse world community,” [the statement continued].

The post said the district was “seeking legal advice for avenues to address the student’s unacceptable behavior in accordance with national and state law, and local policy.” …

Singh’s tweet was retweeted more than 7,000 times and prompted a report on the British website DailyMail.com and other international and national news websites. In a phone call with IndyStar on Monday, he said he posted the photos to educate and help others understand.

“I’ve experienced racism my entire life — many of us have,” he said. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t experience racism like we do and don’t know what it’s like to be a minority in this country. I saw this as an opportunity, really, to share with people the kinds of things that are out there.”

What sort of penalty could the district actually impose on the student? If he’s a member of a sports team and/or school club, it’s likely it could rescind his membership(s) due to behavioral clauses. But it terms of standard punishments like detention of suspension, the Snapchats aren’t akin to the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case in that they’re not even remotely tied to a school function.

It’s likely the district’s pronouncement about “legal avenues” is merely for PR purposes.

Read the full article.

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About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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