A Kokomo (Ind.) High School employee is facing the music after he was recorded on cellphone video playing a game of hangman that used the n-word.
As the Kokomo Tribune reports, the eight-second video shows a student and Greg Ostapa, a paraprofessional at the high school, playing the easily recognized game on a tablet. The tablet shows that the word “nigger” is almost spelled out. The student is seen smiling as the video is recorded, because of course.
What makes this case even more interesting is that the student who posted the video on Twitter, and caused it to blow up, was the one who was suspended from the school.
Siciley Cannon said that at first she shared the video on Snapchat, with several people capturing it. Some of those individuals shared it with administrators, and by Wednesday, she says, she was called in to the office to discuss the video.
She was then informed that there was a handbook policy stating that students cannot film other students or staff without their consent.
“I did not think I was going to get in trouble,” Cannon told the news site. “I would have never thought, ‘I’m about to get in trouble for this.’”
Cannon said that Ostapa made it appear that it was OK for the student to write out the offensive slur, adding that he laughed it off.
“When he saw that I didn’t think it was funny, he hurried up and tried to erase it,” she said. “He just didn’t make it seem like what he was doing was wrong.”
There is a petition going around demanding that Cannon’s suspension be lifted and expunged from her permanent record. That petition on Change.org has collected more than 600 signatures.
The Kokomo School Corp. told the Tribune that Cannon was disciplined because she violated the school handbook’s policy. There is no word as to what form of discipline the student involved in the game may face, although the Kokomo School Corp. said that the student had been disciplined according to school guidelines. In addition, the paraprofessional is facing losing his job.
However, some say that the school needs to come out with a stronger stance against such acts.
“They did say the matter has been taken care of,” Tessa Vaughan, the parent of one of the students who started the petition on Cannon’s behalf, told the news site. “But I did tell them that’s not enough. The students are very upset about it. ... They need to send a strong message.
“This was a grossly racist act, and it creates a threatening environment for the students, and they need to state that they have zero tolerance for this,” she added. “This is an opportunity for the school to send a positive message to the students in the community. I just hope they take advantage of that.”
Kokomo High School Principal Angela Blessing insisted, “Discrimination in any form in unconscionable and will not be tolerated at Kokomo High School. I am proud of our students and staff who work to create an inclusive and welcoming school environment at KHS. We will continue our work to reinforce our expectations about mutual respect among our diverse student body.”
Ostapa has been notified of his pending termination, which will most likely be approved by school board members Monday, the news site notes.
Read more at the Kokomo Tribune.