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'Future Farmers' member racially denigrated by students, mom says

Putnam County School District investigating

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PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The Putnam County School District is investigating, after a mother says middle and high school students in the Future Farmers of America group are racially denigrating her son, a seventh grader.

Cedric Wright, 13, takes farming very seriously ever since his great-grandparents, who were farmers, started teaching him about farming as a younger child.

“What sparked my interest is animals and plants and everything that's alive,” Cedric said. “I just love it."

Now, he and his mother say racism is casting a cloud over his dreams.

He's the only African American officer in the Future Farmers of America program at Jenkins Middle School.

“Some of the things I'm learning are respect and responsibility, because you have to have those to be successful in life,” Cedric said.

But as a black student, Cedric said he feels that respect is not being reciprocated by other students.

“They act like it's not my place to be there, and they're the only ones who should be in the organization,” Cedric said.

His mother, Julia Young, said during a field trip, Cedric was bullied on the bus by older students who used racial slurs, and no help came from a nearby adult.

“The incident was happening toward him, and when he verbalized himself, he was asked to be quiet,” Young said.

However, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, Young said, was the following post on Snapchat.

Young said the school's principal found out about it, and reached out to her invoking confidence that the Putnam County school district will handle the matter appropriately.

“It's not the school as a whole it’s the individuals,” Young said. "People should be addressed, redirected and encouraged not to act on such hateful things."

The Associate Superintendent of Support Services for the Putnam County School District issued a statement reading:

School and district officials were made aware of the situation concerning the FFA student at Jenkins Middle School yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. The school principal met with the student and his mother later that afternoon in an effort to begin an investigation to determine the facts surrounding the incident. The matter currently remains under investigation with school and district administrators working jointly.

We encourage our students to participate in school and club activities of their choosing. We are committed to ensuring the physical and emotional wellbeing of our students in both academic and extracurricular settings. Bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.