District investigating ‘racially insensitive’ video from St. Petersburg High School

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County School District confirms it’s investigating a “racially insensitive” incident that occurred at St. Petersburg High School on Monday.

8 On Your Side Investigates has found at least two cell phone videos of the incident circulating online. The clips show one white student, wearing a straw hat, whip another white student in the back at least twice.

According to the district, this happened during lunch on one of the school’s courtyards as a crowd was watching the incident unfold.

Students were dressed up, with props, for homecoming week. Monday’s theme was country versus country club.

A district spokeswoman released the following statement to 8 On Your Side:

Pinellas County Schools is investigating a racially insensitive incident that took place at St. Petersburg High School. The student’s actions are disappointing and not reflective of our schools. This type of behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in Pinellas County Schools. We will follow school board policies to address the incident with the students involved. Pinellas County Schools wants all of our schools to be inclusive places of learning where students and staff feel safe and respected, every day.

Pinellas County Schools works closely with Community Tampa Bay, an organization committed to ending discrimination, to educate schools on issues of race and discrimination. For the past 25 years, the district has had student leaders from throughout Pinellas County participate in youth conferences designed to empower and educate students on inclusion. When issues such as these arise, Pinellas works quickly to provide additional resources from Community Tampa Bay to students on cultural sensitivity.”

District officials could not discuss student discipline but multiple students claim three of their classmates received suspensions.

Students who witnessed the incident tell 8 On Your Side it wasn’t meant to be racial. They claim it was just horseplay.

That’s not how it came across to at least one student from a nearby school.

“I was absolutely mortified,” said Logan Porter.

Porter saw videos of the incident and then shared it on Twitter. At last check, the video had been viewed more than eight thousand times.

“It’s something that was used as a weapon against African Americans and it wasn’t used for a prank.”

Porter spoke with 8 On Your Side Investigates Thursday. The senior says she posted about the video online to raise awareness.

“You have to view it from an African American’s point,” she said.

Porter tells 8 On Your Side she wasn’t trying to get any students in trouble; however, she’s faced intense backlash.

“I’ve been harassed at school,” she said.

8 On Your Side Investigates was unable to get in touch with the students in the video.

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