Bryant Public Schools released a statement concerning an incident that occurred at Bryant Junior High School on Jan. 24, which has become the subject of social media.
Bryant Public Schools works to ensure that every student is treated with respect and feels safe at school.
Upon learning of the incident days after its occurrence, school administration immediately began an investigation. Following the investigation, which involved consultation with law enforcement authorities, administration took disciplinary action.
We do not, in any way, condone the actions of the students involved. As with all matters involving students, in accordance with federal privacy laws, Bryant Public Schools will not disclose information related to individual student discipline. We understand the situation is justifiably upsetting to students and parents; however, it is our legal obligation to protect the privacy of all students.
We are aware of various allegations on social media concerning this event. Many of those allegations are factually inaccurate. While we cannot address every incorrect statement on social media, we can say that the school district has been responsive to this incident from the beginning and continues to be so; the incident did not involve communications sent to an adult; nor did the incident involve sex trafficking or any photos of a sexual nature.
The incident occurred as part of a broader, ongoing text message exchange between students and an individual confirmed to be an out-of-state minor. While in the gym bleachers, a group of students used a cell phone to take photos of several students of various races and sent them to the out-of-state minor as part of the text messages. One photo, that was not sexual in nature, involved an African-American student. The photo of the African-American student was followed by a text that was entirely inappropriate, insensitive, hurtful, vulgar and a violation of school district policy.
Our hearts go out to the child who was negatively impacted as a result of the incident. We are very sorry for the pain this has caused her and her family. No student should ever be made to feel singled out, unsafe or hurt. We will focus on ensuring that everything possible can be done to support and care for her.
The statements on social media have resulted in alarming reactions. Individuals posted the names and social media accounts of 13 year-old children and posted threats of physical harm to those students. While bad choices were made, threatening behavior toward children is never acceptable.
We take allegations of racism and discrimination very seriously. Racism and discrimination, in any form, will never be tolerated at Bryant Public Schools. There is no greater priority than the health, safety, and welfare of all our students, regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, disability or socioeconomic background. Racism and discrimination are evil and must be defeated at every turn.
In order to be successful, that battle must be based upon facts and truth.
It is our hope that this difficult incident will not only lead to important lessons learned for all involved, but also to grace, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. As adults, we can and should model those traits for our children.
We ask parents, guardians and members of the Bryant community to be mindful of the fact that social media may not always contain correct, accurate or truthful information. Bryant Public Schools always wants to communicate with parents and the community. In matters of student conduct and discipline, the specifics of those communications must, by law, be between the district and the student’s parents or guardians. To the extent we are lawfully able to do so, we will address those concerns.