Apr 1, 2022 - News

Cobb students want stiffer punishment for bigoted comments

Illustration of standardized test filled out as ≠ with an F grade.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Students at Campbell High School in Cobb County want the district to crack down on their peers who make racist and other bigoted comments on campus.

Driving the news: The students, who held a silent protest and spoke at the March Board of Education meeting, want the district to increase the minimum disciplinary action for harassment to 10 days of out-of-school suspension.

What they’re saying: Two students who spoke with Axios say they have suffered from microaggressions over the years. They learned to “deal with things that come and go,” said Radiya Ajibade, a senior who is the student body president and president of the Black Student Association.

However, several students decided to take action after they say a student uttered a racial slur following a diversity panel held earlier in March for incoming ninth-graders.

  • "We finally decided, you know what, enough is enough,” Radiya tells Axios.

Kezia Kennedy, co-president of Campbell’s Minority Caucus, said previous students faced bias and advocated for change, but “nothing has happened.”

The other side: The Cobb County School District said in a statement that it welcomes hearing from students and that its code of conduct outlines “applicable discipline for interpersonal student interactions.”

Context: Acts of racism, as well as anti-semitism, have been reported for years in the Cobb County School District. Students, parents and community members have routinely criticized the system and board members for not publicly addressing these incidents.

  • In Oct. 2017, a Cobb student was captured on Snapchat giving the Nazi salute to a Donald Trump banner. Another student in March 2017 used Snapchat to make racist comments about Black people.
  • In 2019, a group named Stronger Together, made up of parents, students and community members, formed following acts of racism and bias experienced by students of color.
  • In September 2021, bathrooms at Pope and Lassiter high schools were vandalized with anti-semitic graffiti.

Yes but: Cobb school board members in October passed a resolution denouncing anti-semitism and racism, but it was criticized by some who felt both issues deserved separate resolutions.

What we’re watching: Both students say they will continue to push for change if no action is taken by the board.

  • “We'll come back and we'll make as much noise as we have to and get into good trouble to make sure the changes that need to be implemented are implemented,” Radiya said.
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