Two Wausau East High School students face disorderly conduct charges after they were involved in a racially-motivated fight Friday.
But some students and parents say this isn't the first time racist comments have been heard in the hallways and the cafeteria.
"I just saw a huge group of people," said freshman Cheyenne Baker. The 15-year-old wasn't involved in the altercation, but she was there during first period lunch when it happened.
The brawl stemmed from an argument earlier in the week between a few white and black students, that then escalated when people started posting racist things on Facebook.
"It kinda makes me mad," Cheyenne said. She and her family moved to the area just last month. As one of very few biracial students, Cheyenne says she noticed right away that the school is divided when it comes to skin color.
"We're all supposed to be equal and our school is supposed to be a mix," Cheyenne said. "But... some people are still white vs. black."
Although Cheyenne says she's yet to be outwardly discriminated against at school, she hears hurtful comments toward others on a daily basis. "I've heard of a lot of use of the N-word, that we're apparently ignorant, or we need welfare checks," she said.
"I'm outraged, this is ridiculous," said Sandi Deloney, Cheyenne's mom. "This should never be allowed at the school, or any school for that matter."
Deloney says she contacted the director of pupil services just two weeks ago about the racial slurs Cheyenne had mentioned.
"I told him flat out, if he didn't do something about it, it was going to be a big problem," Deloney said. "And low and behold, a week later, it became a big problem."
Neither mother nor daughter were surprised to hear there had been a fight because they say administrators have so far turned a blind eye to past incidents.
"I'm sure it will probably happen again because I don't really feel like they're dealing with it the way they should," Cheyenne said.
The Wausau East Principal says social media has contributed to a number of race-based incidents recently. Brad Peck says now more than ever, racially-charged language and violence won't be tolerated.
In a letter to parents, obtained by NewsChannel 7, Principal Peck says the letter was prompted by two recent incidents at the school which prompted the involvement of police.
Peck says the purpose of the letter was to combat rumors regarding the situation and let parents know the incidents are being addressed.
Here is a copy of the letter:
Dear Parents and Guardians,
This week has been an extremely unsettling time for the entire Wausau East High School community. Two student altercations occurred in our cafeteria that necessitated the involvement of the Wausau Police Department. The purpose of this communication is to quell rumors surrounding these incidents.
I want you to know these incidents involved a very small number of students. Unfortunately, the information surrounding these incidents - and the number of students involved - have been distorted by students through Facebook and other social media.
These incidents were dealt with immediately. The students involved are facing strict school and District discipline, as well as municipal consequences up to and including disorderly conduct citations and arrests. The use of racially-charged language and fighting will not be ignored or tolerated at our school.
Respect for each other is a core value of Wausau East High School. “We believe everyone at our school possesses qualities and traits worthy of admiration, so we respect the dignity of each person.” Our staff and administration are committed to addressing incidents of intolerance and to ensuring that Wausau East High School continues to be a safe and secure place for students to learn.
Bradley J. Peck, Ph.D.
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