Two midstate school superintendents condemn racist videos filmed by students

Marissa Pantoja, 23, made this protest sign as a tribute to Taylor.

Marissa Pantoja, 23, made this protest sign as a tribute to Taylor. "I think the biggest thing that hit home was that she was an essential worker," Pantoja says. "I want to make sure her name is never forgotten." (Becky Sullivan / NPR)

Two midstate school district superintendents have voiced strong displeasure over student-filmed videos that contain racist views.

One posted late last week recorded at a pool party is captioned “George Floyd challenge” after the man who died after a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

In the video, one student is held underwater as another says “stop resisting.” When he comes up for air he says, “I can’t breathe.”

“Please be assured that the attitudes presented in this video do not reflect the values and teachings of the Selinsgrove Area School District,” superintendent Chad L. Corhs wrote.

“As a public school district, we are obligated to respect the freedom of speech, even if that speech is not respectful.

“We will be exploring what, if any, disciplinary action for off-campus behaviors we can take.

“We are examining ways of making improvements in the areas of citizenship and non-discrimination. It is only by working together that we can eradicate racism and discrimination in our communities.”

A week earlier, Mifflinburg Area superintendent Dan Lichtel used that district’s website to share his reaction to a video by two students.

The video questions the legitimacy of the protests that have occurred since Floyd’s death and one of the students comments that black people feel entitled because of slavery.

“I am offended by the contents of this posted video,” Lichtel wrote. “Please be assured that the attitudes presented do not reflect our values and are not consistent with our teachings in Mifflinburg schools.”

“As a public school district, we are bound to respect the speech freedoms of U.S. citizens, even if that speech is not respectful.

“Our authority to impose disciplinary action for off-campus behaviors is also quite limited.

“Nevertheless, as an educational institution, we are examining our K-12 curriculum to consider the design of improvements in our academic program for a stronger education in the area of social citizenship and discrimination reduction.

“Please join me as a community to work to eliminate the hateful mindsets that lead to division.”

Earlier this month, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove condemned a short social media video that contained a racial slur and threatening language.

It is believed the video, which does not appear to have been filmed on campus, was made by an incoming freshman, university spokesperson Amanda O’Rourke said at the time.

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