Attorney of James Island Charter High students in Snapchat photo controversy issues statement

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The attorney representing one of two James Island Charter High Schools issued a statement Wednesday about a Snapchat photo school officials say offended many people.

Attorney Michael DuPree issued a statement on behalf of the two students:

The original photograph that was posted on social media this past weekend depicted two teenage students in spa facial masks enjoying their long weekend.  Subsequently, another student obtained a screenshot of the photo, posted it on Facebook and asserted that the caption "Happy MLK Weekend" was offensive.

At no point in time did these two students intend for there to be any racial overtones whatsoever.  They never intended for it to be interpreted as offensive.

This is a valuable lesson of how social media can be manipulated and misconstrued.

The photo shows two students wearing spa face masks, one mask is white the other is brown. The caption on the original photo says "Happy MLK Weekend."

James Island Charter High School Administration issued a statement Tuesday stating the photo offended many, intentionally or not:

"James Island Charter High School is aware that a student posted a picture on Snapchat that intentionally or not offended many people. The school has addressed the students involved. It is now a student discipline issue. Parents, we strongly encourage you to monitor and coach your children on how to use social media responsibly. As a school, we have students from many diverse backgrounds which we believe is a strength of our school. The aforementioned image posted on Snapchat does not reflect the values and beliefs of this school community. We will continue to foster an environment that celebrates the acceptance of people from all backgrounds."

Rick Wilson, a senior at James Island Charter High School,  said it was not the picture itself, but the caption with the picture that offended a lot of people at the school.

Wilson shared the photo on social media with the caption, "It's crazy how racism still goes around in 2018, share and make this go viral."

"At first when I saw it, I was like it's just a face mask," Wilson said. "I clicked it and I looked and I saw 'Happy Martin Luther King Weekend,' and I was like well that has to have a hidden meaning behind it."

The girls earlier issued an apology on their school's news show that was posted to YouTube. One girl said they were having a spa night and that there was no conscious thought to make a reference to MLK Day. The other student said in part that she made a dumb decision and that she is so disappointed in herself.

They go on to say they don't stand for anything of that nature.

The mother of one of the girls in the photo says she's filed a police report for cyberbullying against the student for reposting the Snapchat photo on Facebook. The photo has also been re-posted by other students on social media.

Wilson says he wants the photo to be taken seriously by school officials and for the students to be held accountable for their actions.

"What if they switched the roles?" Wilson asked."What if it was an African American boy that this happened to and they were in my position? They would be terminated. They would be expelled. They know that's how it would all happen."

Snapchat is a popular social media app used to share photos and videos with followers. One of the reasons for the platform's popularity is that images disappear after a while, but sometimes they remain up just long enough for others to see them and share.

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