Who would have thought something like this could happen in Tennessee?
An African-American student at a private Christian school in Columbia has moved on to greener pastures after a photo of a classmate wearing a makeshift KKK mask and “heiling” …Jesus(?)…surfaced on Snapchat.
On Friday, Cathy Leach told WKRN that her son will no longer be attending Zion Christian Academy.
“When I got the picture, something had to be done,” she said. “It was hurtful and just unbelievable that we are still going through this. It’s 2014.”
Leach says that her son has been bullied about his race for at least the past three weeks, and that he has complained to faculty about being called a “n*gger” and other hateful names.
“There were comments and jokes being made,” she said. “He reported it but nothing was being done. He has some recordings of things they say because he wants something done about it.”
Headmaster Don Wahlman told the news station that he has met with faculty since the photo surfaced and, despite a clear culture of racism at the school, that “this is not who we are” at Zion.
“It’s so sad that our school name is being destroyed by the actions of a student who made a tragic mistake,” he said. “This is not Zion Christian Academy. If you walked our halls and talked with our students you’d see that this is not who we are. We are praying that God blesses this student in his new school.”
“We started an investigation to see the accuracy of the picture to make sure what we were seeing was accurate and we had the right facts in place,” Wahlman said. “We had a faculty meeting right after school to address this issue and just talk about the problem.”
On Thursday morning, the headmaster held an assembly where he told students that bullying was not “Christ-like” and reminded them of the zero-tolerance policy.
“I explained our position and Christ’s position that this is not to be tolerated because it’s a sinful act,” he said. “We will have zero tolerance for any comments that are bullying or racially motivated.”
He says that the instances of bullying previously reported were addressed, and that the students involved with the hateful picture were not the ones involved with prior instances — a strong indicator that this culture of racism is more pervasive than he will admit, and that these were not isolated incidents.
“We addressed that with the students listed and really addressed this as we are not going to tolerate this anymore and to my knowledge no more of that occurred,” he explained. “The students involved with this [picture incident] were not those students.”
Leach also met with the boy’s mother on Thursday. She said that she felt after the meeting that the concerns would be properly addressed — but pulled her son from the school after he received even more hateful messages from students who made it clear that they did not want him there.
The student will now be attending school at Williamson County Schools, where his mother is an employee.