In wake of racist group chat, WCPSS pledges to take action in a letter to staff

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
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WCPSS praises teen who uncovered classmates' racist group chat

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Public School leaders said the district will roll out new programs and initiatives in the coming weeks after an African-American student uncovered a racist online group chat at East Wake High School earlier this month.

14-year-old Cenayia Pope Edwards posed as a white student to gain access to the chat and took screen shots of many of the racist messages being shared by her white classmates.

Wake Schools investigates after black student uncovers classmates' racist group chat

In a letter to WCPSS staff, dated Oct. 24, WCPSS Superintendent Cathy Moore and School Board Chairman Jim Martin, called the chat messages, "racist, vile and thoughtless."

Moore and Martin say the school is using the incident as an opportunity to "directly address racism" and the "students involved have faced appropriate consequences."

WCPSS offers praise, apologies to teen who uncovered classmates' racist group chat

Citing privacy rules, WCPSS said it cannot discuss how the students were punished.

Several of the students on the chat attend Johnston County Public Schools.

JCPS said it has addressed the situation as well.

"To be sure, our school system is fortunate to serve a diverse and multicultural community. But diversity that is not valued offers no hope of personal growth and community well-being," Moore and Martin wrote. "That is why we are asking you today --immediately-- to see, to understand and to interrupt racism in all its forms. We are having this conversation today among school leaders, and you are reading this message from us, because a single African-American student was willing to confront the racist comments of others."

In a separate letter to parents of East Wake High School, obtained by ABC11, Principal Stacey Alston announced the school will host a forum on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to discuss issues of race and gender equality.

Alston said student leaders are currently holding meetings to "define the values of East Wake High as a way to push back against the incomplete narrative shared through the media."

He also said the district's Office of Equity Affairs will conduct a "school cultural assessment" to identify the views and experiences of students and staff in regards to race.

"This assessment will inform me and our school leadership about underlying racial issues that need to be addressed in a more systematic way," Alston wrote.

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