SALT LAKE CITY — A video posted on Instagram that appears to show five teen girls taking turns shouting an expletive and racial slur has led the Weber School District to investigate and has generated fierce backlash online.
Administrators learned about the recording late Monday, said Weber School District spokesman Lane Findlay, and were planning to start investigating Tuesday morning when employees could speak with Weber High students.
Findlay said the district was seeking to determine how many students were involved and whether the footage was recorded on school property or during the school day. He said he believed those in the video were students in his district, but he had few details.
"We're still trying to figure out the origin of the video, what's being said," Findlay said. "Obviously it's circulating on social media and you have people that are contacting us with concerns about it, and rightfully so."
Administrators had their own concerns about the impact on students who would feel targeted by the shouts in the video that repeat a derogatory term referring to black Americans. At the same time, district officials have discussed a possible need to protect the teens in the video, Findlay said.
Several commenters condemned the video, calling it racist, disgusting and embarrassing, and calling for the girls to be suspended. Some defended them, saying they were young and were challenged to say gibberish that when played backward, resulted in the offensive video.
The 10-second recording was captured and reposted by others on Monday. It circulated widely on Facebook, with 12,000 views by 9:30 p.m.
The footage showed teens chanting the phrase six times through smiles, mostly one-by-one but also together at times.
Several people relayed their concerns to the district via Facebook Monday, Findlay said, though he wasn't clear on whether they were students, parents or others.
Contributing: Brianna Bodily