Four white students were suspended this week for racially motivated online harassment of the newly elected senior class president at their school.
Kori Dobbs, who is black, was elected class president at Albany High School in late September, reported the Times Union, and she was taunted with racial slurs on Twitter almost immediately.
Students suggested on social media that the senior prom, which is planned with input from the class president and her cabinet, would serve malt liquor and have a ghetto theme.
After students were encouraged to wear black to show school spirit, one of the students said he might “step it up a little and do blackface.”
The student, Christopher Kissane, insisted to the newspaper that his comments were misinterpreted jokes in reference to the TV sitcom, “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”
“I’m not a racist,” said the senior, one of the four students suspended. The other students did not speak to the media and were not identified.
“It was done in a joking, satirical manner and was not meant to be offensive to anybody,” Kissane said.
His father, a technology teacher who has been on the faculty for 32 years at Albany High, said he doesn’t feel his son did anything wrong.
“There are a lot of racial undercurrents in the building,” said teacher Richard Kissane. “The stuff I hear in class and in the hallway I find very offensive. I report offenses, and most of the time they are disregarded.”
About 54 percent of Albany High’s students are black, the newspaper reported, while about 23 percent are white.
Dobbs said she did not speak with school officials about the social media posts until last week, and they examined screen captures of the posts before determining the comments violated the school’s code of conduct.
The given three-day in-school suspensions Thursday and additional suspensions are possible, officials said.
“I just couldn’t take the cyberbullying anymore and had to tell someone,” Dobbs. “I was really upset and sad.”