FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – A group of parents gathered in Fernandina Beach Wednesday night to discuss a recent video that was widely circulated on social media last week and led to the suspension of multiple students.
“The purpose of this meeting is to make sure we are all moving as one, aligned on the goal, establish an effective way to communicate, and most importantly, the beginning steps of positive forward progress,” a Facebook post from activist and parent Melissa Ricks.
The video showed two Yulee High School students laughing and using racial slurs while one of them donned a white hood.
According to Nassau County School District assistant superintendent Mark Durham, the video was filmed off-campus over the summer and had been recently forwarded to a group of Black students at the high school.
The group, which included Ricks’ son, confronted the two teens seen in the video -- and that led to what the district described as a “physical altercation.”
The group of Black students was suspended for five days, according to Ricks. The students who sent the video were also disciplined, but the two students featured in the clip were not punished, Durham confirmed to News4Jax.
Parents say the way school administrators handled the situation surrounding the controversial video unfairly. They say the district was inconsistent, unfair and damaging.
Emily Joinville, an alumni of the school and the daughter of Yulee High’s principal, attending the meeting virtually, defending her father’s handling of the situation -- saying his hands were tied.
Joinville took to social media, slamming the group of parents’ characterization of her father’s handling of the controversy.
On Friday, after the video was reported by News4Jax, the district’s spokesperson released a statement, condemning the video’s content.
“Nassau County School District and Yulee High School want to make it clear that acts of discrimination based on race will not be tolerated on our campuses or toward our students. Individuals committing such acts will be subject to disciplinary consequences. We recognize that many students were negatively affected by the content of this video and the school is prepared to support their needs.”Mark Durham, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction
According to the Baptist Ministers Conference of Duval and adjacent counties, one of the group’s pastors traveled to Nassau County Monday to meet with representatives of the school administration to discuss the video and the climate that led to its creation.