Both students were quickly identified by their Carrollton High School classmates, and the video triggered a quick rebuke from the superintendent.
“Tonight it has been brought to my attention that an inappropriate video was created on the TikTok social media platform,” Albertus said late Thursday. “Please know that this video has been addressed immediately and any student involved in the production of this video will face serious consequences ... This type of behavior will not be tolerated.”
As of Friday afternoon, the district’s response had been shared nearly 3,000 times.
Shortly after 3 p.m., district officials announced the students were no longer enrolled in the school system.
Albertus said he was “deeply disturbed” by the overt racist tone of the video and that he agreed with parents and other community members, who were outraged by it.
“This incident does not reflect the culture of Carrollton City Schools,” the superintendent said. “We are very proud of our diversity and so is our entire community. We don’t need to lose sight of this important attribute because of the actions of a few.”
School board member Gil O’Neal, who is black, told AJC.com he was appalled by the video.
“I was very surprised. I just couldn’t believe that in this day and age we’re still having to deal with these types of issues,” said O’Neal, a 1976 Carrollton High graduate who has lived in the city his entire life and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. “We are called Trojan Nation for a reason, and that is not indicative of anything that goes on in this community nor this city.”
His sentiment was echoed by school board chairman David Godwin, who said there are “no excuses for this type of behavior.”
“Our tradition as a system has never tolerated racist behavior and it won’t going forward,” Godwin said in an emailed statement. “It not only negatively impacts our schools, but our community at large. Carrollton does not champion racism and it is regretful an ill-conceived, minute-long TikTok video can wreak havoc that causes distress for everyone.
“The resulting social media outrage, however, encourages me to be proud to be a part of such a wonderful community. We will get through this together and will continue to uphold the values that make our community great.”
The board chair said he and his colleagues stand behind the district’s leadership for applying what he called appropriate consequences.
Some on social media questioned whether district officials could punish the students for a video they recorded outside of school.
Carrollton High Principal David Brooks said that even if the video was recorded at home, “it doesn’t alleviate the students’ responsibility to uphold a high standard of behavior.”
Sickened by the viral video of two white high school students from Carrollton demonstrating that white supremacy and racism is alive and well. We can and must do better. #BetheBridge
“It is our priority to keep our schools safe, and there is no doubt this incident has caused significant tension at Carrollton High School, across the district, state and nation — even the world,” he said.
While in-person classes have been suspended for the rest of the academic year, the school year is not officially over. The seniors in the video were set to graduate this spring, but district spokeswoman Julianne Foster confirmed they won’t be receiving their diplomas or walking across the stage with their classmates.
“The students are no longer enrolled in our school district. Our school year has not yet ended, so they will not be graduates of Carrollton High School,” she said.