Officials at Riverview High School in Sarasota are investigating a racial “promposal” that is being circulated on social media.
The acting principal of Riverview High School, Kathy Wilks, sent a message to students and parents on Monday to “make everyone aware of a student’s social media post that has caused a very concerning situation.”
Several News Channel 8 viewers reached out to us on Monday about the picture. It shows a teenager holding a sign that reads, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”
According to Wilks, the student seen in the photo is a senior at Riverview who was asking another student to prom.
“It was racial in nature and administration became aware of it last night,” Wilks said in her message. “Many who saw the post are understandably upset with its contents as well as the subsequent commentary to the post. Riverview High School absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post.”
The administration is now investigating the social media post and the parents of the students involved were notified.
Wilks says “appropriate action” will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation.
Guidance counselors and administrators are being made available for students at the school who want to talk about the post.
“We’ve been knowing him since freshman year. I never thought he would say something like that,” said Riverview HS student Nolan Perez.
“I think it was something that he thought was gonna be funny, but its not,” said fellow student Erin Williams.
Sarasota County School officials say they are also working with local and national civic leaders, including the NAACP, to develop a roundtable forum to discuss the issue of race. They say the roundtable will be a district-wide forum.
“Although this message is one student’s opinion, we take the matter of racial relations and school safety seriously, and we look forward to working with our students and these outside groups to have a meaningful and informative dialogue and expanded curriculum related to this important national topic,” a district spokeswoman said in a statement.
Trevor Harvey, with the Sarasota chapter of the NAACP, released a statement that said:
“A strong statement needs to be made to their student body that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on any of our campuses throughout the school district, and, if so, there are going to be severe consequences. When we see so many heightened race relations throughout our country, our district has to take a proactive standpoint to make sure that that stuff doesn’t spill off into our schools.”
In her message, Wilks said school administrators are focused on ensuring Riverview High School provides a safe and secure environment for all of its students.
“Riverview High School has a wonderful student population and we know our school will use this incident as an opportunity to have productive conversations about respect for one another,” she said. “We look forward to the start of a new week and know that together, we will demonstrate our pride in the spirit of our school through caring for each other.”
Students don’t want riots, and they say this doesn’t reflect on the school as a whole. They hope this starts a conversation.
“I want people to learn, really think about what you say because it has effects on other people,” said Dominic Williams.
“This is a good thing to talk about, because you have to recognize something to change it and then you have to keep it that way,” said Erin Williams.
The student who made the “promposal” has since apologized on social media. The school district has not announced whether he will face any disciplinary action.