Racist prom invitation sparks backlash at SoCal high school

PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- A pair of Palos Verdes High School students were in hot water Wednesday over a social media photo of a "promposal" containing racist language.

The photograph posted on Twitter and Instagram shows the students standing together and laughing near a brick driveway. They are holding the "promposal" sign, which states, "Bianca You are racist, but I would give anything for you to go with me to prom."

Six letters on the sign are printed in bold and capitalized to spell out the N-word.

Palos Verdes High School is scheduled to hold its prom on Saturday.

Several students and parents have demanded in online posts that the school investigate the photograph, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Palos Verdes High School Principal Allan Tyner said in a statement that the two students and their families have been contacted "to inform them that we are forming a response and anticipate severe consequences."

"In accordance with our values and expectations for respectful conduct in our district and at PVHS, this sign is unacceptable," Tyner said. "We are also continuing to investigate the situation to determine who else may have been present when the photo was taken, and who took the photo. However, we will not discuss the details of any school action or potential consequences for students as we have a strict obligation to protect privacy rights."

The appearance of the photo on social media prompted a raft of responses. According to the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department, "one such post appeared to be a threat towards PVHS." That prompted a stepped-up presence of officers at the campus Wednesday.

Police said officers tracked down the person who made the possibly threatening post, and "it was determined that the person making the post was not intending any violence, rather it was meant as a -- inappropriate -- joke."

In his statement, Tyner said he was calling on teachers and parents "to join me in reminding our students that we live in a society that must respect diversity and tolerance. Indeed, this life lesson is critical and is one that school and home must partner to teach. At the same time, I am heartened by the immediate response by our students and families on social media that make it very clear that our community does not support this behavior."

Alex Cherniss and Linda Reid -- the superintendent and board president, respectively, of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District - - issued a joint statement calling the promposal post "appalling," and saying Tyner would be meeting with students Wednesday to discuss the issue.

"The actions of this small number of students acting in a racist manner do not reflect the values or views of our district students, teachers, parents and administrative staff," Cherniss and Reid wrote in their statement. "This fact was made clear by the prompt and overwhelming response of our community in condemning this intolerable act of hatred. As a school community we will rise above this, learn from this and be a better school district as a result."

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