COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Dozens of Cobb County students are fired up over what they call a lack of accountability for racism and homophobia in their schools.
Students protested ahead of the Cobb County School District’s board meeting Thursday night.
Students are calling on the school district to update the code of conduct regarding hate speech and discrimination.
“We feel like the punishment doesn’t match the seriousness of the action,” senior Kezia Kennedy explained.
Students have said for years that there have been blatant acts of racism and misogyny on their campuses and that the discipline their classmates face doesn’t send a clear enough message.
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Several students spoke out Thursday night demanding more from Cobb County and school board leaders.
“We will suggest that these comments be made at least 10 days away from school,” Kennedy explained.
High School Junior Marli English went on to say, “We are asking you in section G3 to change the wording so that you now include students instead of just district staff or other adults. These two changes can have an incredible impact. in our schools.”
They feel the current code of conduct’s response to discrimination is more like a slap on the wrist, saying it’s often a three- to five-day suspension, if that’s the case.
“We took him to the administration and because it was his first offense he could only receive the minimum sentence even though it was an extreme and very racist action that occurred on the campus,” said Alexandria Sellers, a junior at Campbell High School. .
Students believe that racism, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are rampant both on their campuses and on social media.
Affected students went on to note that a recent situation involved blackface.
“There have been a lot of group chats and postings of private stories leaked to the student body at large,” Sellers detailed,
In 2021, the community called out to the district for its initial response to anti-Semitism.
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“It’s disheartening, but at some point you become numb to it. There’s incident after incident,” English said.
The council did not address the students on Thursday, but FOX 5 spoke with council member Leroy Tre’ Hutchins.
“If students don’t feel their environment is safe to learn in, it’s our responsibility to review the policy to make sure it is,” Hutchins said.
He said most board members were probably unaware of student concerns about the current policy.
“It is my hope and my prayer that we do something to change the climate and the culture in such a way that students always feel safe,” he detailed.
Students request a written response within 30 days from the board outlining the steps to be taken to make changes to the code of conduct.
A district spokesperson sent FOX 5 the following statement in response to the student’s concerns:
“Cobb School District policy does not tolerate hateful and racist speech. Our Student Code of Conduct outlines several policies and disciplines applicable to student interpersonal interactions, including disrespectful conduct, disruptive classroom behavior, and school, harassment, electronic devices, etc. District policies are intended to create a safe and welcoming learning environment for all staff and students at Cobb Schools.”
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