“In every investigation we will interview witnesses, gather information and follow the student code of conduct,” Fehrman said. “But once an investigation is complete, all we can tell you is that it is complete. We can confirm whether a student is in the system or not. But if they aren’t in the system, we can’t confirm [that a student’s leaving] is related to discipline.”
The first two controversial videos started circulating in April with one showing a white Decatur High teen delivering a racial epithet twice. Another showed a different white student lip-synching a profanity-infused pop song while loudly exaggerating a racial slur every time it was repeated in the lyric.
Fehrman said both those cases have been “resolved.”
An eight-minute video that surfaced in May shows a white 18-year-old Decatur High male knocking on the door of an Oakhurst home apparently owned by an African American (who is heard but not seen on the video). The eight minutes are full of the student uttering repetitious and condescending phrases while confidently assuring the unseen homeowner several times, “I am not going to jail (he didn’t).”
“We didn’t open an investigation on that one,” Fehrman said. “It didn’t disrupt school discipline, it was off campus, after hours and didn’t involve the school day. Given all that there’s not much we can do.”
The most recent video released has been the most incendiary, a five-second clip showing the son of a longtime Decatur High administrator holding what appears to be a toy gun. Although this student is a rising 11th grader, the video may have been shot when he was in the eighth grade and was posted only recently by other students. In the clip he says he uses the gun to kill blacks, utters the N-word and imitates the sound of three gunshots.
“This one is still under investigation,” said Fehrman, who was recently named assistant superintendent after two years at CSD and 21 years in public education. “We’re still trying to figure out when it happened. But in any case once the case is resolved we will not share specifics or make an announcement.
“I understand why there are raw feeling in the community,” she added. “[CSD has] completed three years of putting an equity lens on all our decision making across the district, and that makes this clustering of incidents particularly frustrating. But discipline is one of the most protected sections under Georgia and [national] privacy laws.”