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Southern Utah students disciplined after posting racist photo to Instagram

Southern Utah students disciplined after posting racist photo to Instagram (Photo: KUTV)

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (KUTV)- Members of the Hurricane community and Washington County School District officials are “disgusted” by an Instagram photo that was posted by two Hurricane High School students on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The photo shows one of the female students pretending to hang herself, with “x” drawn onto her eyes and it captions “happy national n***er day.”

Steven Dunham, Director of Public Relations with the school district tells 2News that action has been taken on these two students but they cannot say what those consequences are for now.

“We have a safe school’s policy and if they are not making other students feel safe in our own schools, in our own community, is significant in the punishments that they could face," Dunham said.

The principal of Hurricane High School, Jody Rich, sent out a video statement on his Instagram account shortly after this student photo was discovered:

Recently, some thoughtless actions by a few on social media have reached out to affect us all, which saddens me because they don’t represent what HHS is all about. I want to give you all a challenge to adopt my TLC three-point test for everything we say and do... be it face to face, in the crowd at a ball game, or on social media. Before you post or say something, ask yourself… is it TRUE, will it LIFT rather than tear down, and is it CARING! Please never say or post anything if it doesn’t pass this simple test!
Please also take a moment to reflect on what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is all about. It’s not about getting another day off from school, rather it is about remembering how far our nation has come, and how far we still have to go. Dr. King said, 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' If our school is known for anything it is known for being a place where everyone feels loved and accepted. I am grateful to be a part of this Tiger family...so please join with me as we work hard to ensure that love abounds to drive out any hate. Thank you so much! I love you all! Jody

It’s believed by the school district that the students took this photo at their place of work. 2News spoke out to the student’s employer and we are told the girl in the photo has been fired from her job.

“We were closed during that time it was done on their own social media accounts on their own time on their own devices,” Dunham said.

Parents have also shown some disbelief, Arin Hoagland, a mother of two and member of the Hurricane community said that these acts by the student could have been prevented.

“It's your perspective, your mind set on other races, that all starts completely at home with your parents, with your morals, with your beliefs. All of that starts at home," Hoagland said. The fact that it was posted on a national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., and even at all, was disrespectful, she added.

"That makes me really sad as a mother that people are still referring to a race as a slur,” Hoagland said.

For updates on this investigation, check in with 2News on-air and online.

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