High school student infiltrates, uncovers racist online chat

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WENDELL, N.C. (AP) — A black student at a North Carolina high school infiltrated and exposed a racist student online chat, but it's unclear if everyone in the chat is facing consequences.

Cenayia Edwards uncovered slur laden conversations about killing black people and reviving slavery involving two students at Edward's East Wake High and five others at Johnston County's Corinth Holders High.

White friends of the 14-year-old told her about the chat in late September and so she adopted a white online persona to gain access, she said.

"I was like, 'Add me to it,' because I wanted to see what they were talking about," she told WTVD-TV. "And I wanted to have proof that they were talking about this."

Edwards changed her avatar to a white face and soon was able to see messages about shooting black infants, general racist violence and whether one commenter should go by the name "Black Slayer."

Edwards' mother, Cecelia Edwards, said her daughter interrupted the chat and was met with vitriol. One person responded to the confrontation with a meme of a sheriff penguin calling Edwards a slur and telling her to shut up.

Edwards and her family said that East Wake High Principal Stacey Alston told them he's not disciplining anyone, according to The News & Observer.

Cecelia Edwards said the school told the family an investigation determined district policy wasn't violated. At least some of the messages in the chat were sent while students were in class because there's a reference to a teacher getting mad. Edwards' family wants the students to at least be suspended and undergo counseling.

Wake County school officials on Thursday said federal student privacy laws prevent them from saying if disciplinary action was taken. In the past, however, district officials have revealed when students were disciplined for racist behavior.

In a video posted online Thursday, Alston called the chat unacceptable, "either during or after school hours," and said such behavior damages the school and society. He didn't mention any consequences in that message or one sent to parents Tuesday.

Instead, Alston has promised the school will offer opportunities for "constructive dialogue" about racial issues.

Meanwhile, Johnston County school officials said the principal "issued consequences" and parents were notified.

The messages made Edwards' family concerned for her safety, and the school's response left Edwards wanting.

"I believed in my school to take the right actions toward this, but it was evident that they did not," she said. "This situation has definitely hurt me and opened my eyes to a lot of things."

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Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com


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