Minneapolis Public Schools officials say they are "deeply disturbed by an incident of racial intolerance" in which four students hung a dark-skinned baby doll by its neck with a piece of string at school last week.
The act was captured on Washburn High School surveillance cameras, but also documented by the students themselves. Images were then posted to social media sites.
Washburn Principal Carol Markham-Cousins notified parents of the incident n a letter to parents Wednesday, noting that she took "immediate action." The four students have been disciplined, though school officials have declined to release specific details. WCCO reports that one student has been expelled. Markham-Cousins writes in her letter, from KSTP:
This is an extremely disturbing occurrence and not reflective of the Miller Pride that we promote. Such insensitive behavior is intolerable in our school and school district,both of which are full of diversity and rich in culture.
Due to the gravity of this incident, we are responding in several ways. Aside from following the school district’s code of conduct in any instance of inappropriate behavior, we will be creating opportunities for these students to take responsibility for their actions through restorative measures. We are also seeking opportunities for students to work with our community partners who provide support services so they have the resources they need to be successful.
"“I know the people that did it and I know they didn’t mean it like people have been taking it,” the teen said. “It was just an idiotic thing. They would have done it if it was a purple baby. They would have done it if it was a white baby or any color baby. They were just acting on a whim.”
The school canceled after-school activities Thursday, including a basketball game, for safety concerns following the incident, the Star Tribune reports. Counselors, school staff and community groups will be available for students upset by the incident, which the district said in its statement "may cause feelings of anger and humiliation for some students."
In neighboring Baldwin, Wis., a student was suspended earlier this month from Baldwin-Woodville High School for giving a small noose and KKK symbols to a classmate during art class.
The male freshman placed the items, reportedly a macramé noose and miniature hat, on the desk of a female peer, who is one of three black students in the school of 450. The girl's foster parents say the incident has left the teen "shut down" and afraid to return to school.