An Instagram account promoting racial segregation at West High School was taken down late last week.
The account, called madisonwestwhites, had a description of “a group of west high students that want to make west great again by creating socialital segregation from colored people and gays.” West principal Karen Boran wrote in a letter sent to families Saturday that assertion was incorrect, and the page’s creation was “much more isolated in scope.”
“While the page has been taken down, many alumni, families and students have seen or shared screen shots of the page and are rightfully concerned,” Boran wrote. “On Friday morning, we immediately began an investigation, including consultation and collaboration with School Resource Officer (Justin) Creech. We are now taking all appropriate steps with those involved.”
MMSD spokeswoman Liz Merfeld declined to elaborate on what “much more isolated in scope” referred to, but said the consequences for anyone involved follow what’s outlined in the Behavioral Education Plan. The BEP for high school students classified “Serious threats, including the use of social media to threaten someone or to cause a disruption” as a Level 3 or 4 offense, with an out of school suspension between one and five days as well as administrative involvement.
The page included four posts and had six followers, according to a screenshot sent to the Cap Times and posted on Facebook by a former West student. Those posts included a photo of the West High School entrance captioned, “We need to come together as a school and remove the diversity and ethnicity #Whites4West.”
“The beliefs and images on this page were hateful, go against everything we believe and are contrary to the environment we create together every day at West,” Boran wrote. “It is heartbreaking to see our school connected with these vile images and comments on social media.”
Boran wrote that the school would have discussions and resources about hate speech available Monday, including from the Family Online Safety Institute, Southern Poverty Law Center and Teaching Tolerance.
“I also want to acknowledge that, while the page was removed from Instagram, we know that one hate-filled page is only a symptom of a deep and deadly prejudice that doesn’t disappear when an Instagram page does,” Boran wrote. “We know we need to continually combat bigotry for the safety of every single person in our community.”
Instagram’s Help Center page encourages users to report “hate accounts.”
“If an account is established with the intent of bullying or harassing another person or if a photo or comment is intended to bully or harass someone, please report it,” the page states.