Residents in the Fenton community were outraged after senior students at a Mid-Michigan high school wore derogatory costumes in what was dubbed a “prank.”
The superintendent of Fenton Area Public Schools, Adam Hartley, stated that the incident took him by surprise.
“This offended families. It offended students. It offended our community members,” he said, maintaining that it was definitely NOT a school sponsored senior prank.
He expressed his embarrassment and disappointment over the May 16th incident, saying, “We’re embracing diversity and that picture certainly does not reflect that.”
In the picture taken in a classroom, a group of students were dressed in outfits commonly associated with “cholos,” a term referring to the Mexican-American street gangs.
The photo went viral, sparking controversy and intense backlash from the community.
Hartley revealed that a staff member had been part of the prank.
He said, “We acted very promptly early this morning when that was brought to our attention, made sure that staff member was not with students this morning.”
He maintained that if he had his way, senior pranks would be a thing of the past. However, since they happen, he stated that there were proper ways to execute a prank.
“There was no offensive language. There wasn’t anything that people could look at that pointed to making fun of any other students or anything of that nature,” he said.
He stated that a proper prank was something that could be cleaned up, and that did not have a lasting impact. Unfortunately, the students’ act was part of a digital footprint that would follow them for a long time.
Hartley said, “In today’s world, any pictures, any video, anything that we place out on the web so to speak doesn’t go away.”
He stated that the incident was still under investigation, but that the staff member who had participated in the prank had been placed on administrative leave.