Police and Prior Lake school officials are investigating after a high school student posted a racist video on social media.
The video prominently features a female student on screen, as well as the voice of another student coming from offscreen. Both are spouting racial slurs and suggesting a student of color take their own life, all while laughing.
The video, which was apparently posted on Monday, Nov. 8, was shared widely Tuesday on Instagram and TikTok, as well as throughout school districts in Minnesota. Even students who don't have social media had seen the video by the end of the day Tuesday, a Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools parent told Bring Me The News.
Some who have shared the video said racism is an ongoing issue at the school but incidents are often pushed to the side, stressing students need to be held accountable.
"Our schools do not tolerate racism and hate speech. An investigation into the students involved with the video is underway and we will take appropriate action," Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Teri Staloch told Bring Me The News in a statement on Wednesday. "We remain focused on our priority of providing safe, supportive and inclusive learning environments for all students."
Staloch and Prior Lake High School Principal John Bezek sent letters to staff and families on Tuesday addressing the issue, with both calling the video "disturbing" and "racist." They said an investigation is already underway and they will take appropriate action, with Staloch noting the action will be "swift."
The Savage Police Department said Wednesday its school resource officer and detectives are working with district administration to "thoroughly investigate" the incident, with the department noting it has received "many phone calls" regarding the social media post but because it's an active investigation, no other information will be released at this time.
"Our school does not tolerate racism or hate speech," Bezek wrote in the letter, adding he asked students to "reflect on our values and what it means to be a welcoming and inclusive school."
On Tuesday, administrators gathered some student leaders to discuss how the school "can move forward in a safe and respectful learning and working environment," Bezek said.
Bezek said the high school is committed to continuing its work of engaging in conversations with students and having open dialogue so they can be heard in order to create a respectful school environment.
"This includes educating students about the impact of their actions and the consequences if they choose to infringe on the rights of others," Bezek said.
Staloch stressed incidents like this impact everyone in the community and "we recognize the pain and hurt that is a result."
"[The district's] top priority is to provide safe, supportive and inclusive learning environments for all students," Staloch said. "One of our core values in PLSAS is to value ourselves, each other and our world across all differences. This is part of the fabric of our Strategic Plan, written with the help of our stakeholders, and it remains our promise to our community."
Bring Me The News has asked Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools for further comment on the incident and reports of similar incidents at the school.