OGDEN — Five Weber High School students who shouted a racial slur and expletive in an Instagram video that surfaced last week have been disciplined, district officials reported Monday.
Weber School District said "the video that was made created a substantial disruption at Weber High School and adversely affected many students, including some of our minority students."
The district did not provide specifics on the punishment, citing federal student privacy law, but district spokesman Lane Findlay confirmed that they were disciplined to varying levels depending on their involvement in extracurriculars.
Three of the five girls who are shown in the video taking turns smiling and shouting the same phrase were cheerleaders, Findlay said. Students in extracurriculars are held to a higher standard and are required to sign a conduct code along with their parents. The agreement applies both on and off campus, he added.
The 10-second clip shows the girls, all of whom appear to be white, in a car repeating a gibberish phrase. The nonsense words resulted in the expletive and racial slur toward African-Americans when played backward using an app.
"Although the students reported they were just playing around and it wasn’t directed at any particular person, it doesn’t excuse the fact they knew what the words sounded like when they recorded it and played it backward," Findlay said in a statement.
The students have "expressed sincere regret for their actions and have been very apologetic," he continued.42 comments on this story
The video originally was recorded a year ago on fall break and later posted to social media by one of the students, Findlay said. A Facebook post sharing the original recording had thousands of views by the time district administrators learned about it Oct. 16.
The district said it interviewed the students and their parents, and respected the teens' right to a fair investigation. Administrators respect free speech but took action to comply with federal law protecting students against bullying and harassment.
The district is considering several options for sensitivity and anti-discrimination training for students and staff, including a program from the U.S. Department of Justice.