Student accused of tweeting 'n-word' at black classmate will graduate

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The high school senior at the Charleston County School of the Arts who tweeted the "n-word" at a black classmate earlier this year will not be kicked out of school.

The white student, Ashley Patrick, will instead be required to perform 20 hours of community service and write a 500 word paper on racism and its effects on social media. Patrick must present the paper to the board at their meeting on June 24th.

She will not be allowed to attend prom, and she will not be allowed to walk at graduation either. Patrick will receive a diploma from the school.

After being irriated at school Patrick posted the tweet while at home after school. The "n-word" was on a picture she posted along with her written comment.

Patrick's lawyer Dwyane Green said, "It was frustration afterwards and nothing with any bad intent. It was as teens do, just venting on a personal account at home."

Charleston County School Board members came to the decision during a 3 hour long hearing on Wednesday.

Cindy Coats, Chair of the school board said, "What is the difference between tweeting something to 90 people who attend the school as opposed to going up and telling them in person. Location isn't what we have to focus on inside our schools. It's to whom are you delivering the message and how does that affect the educational environment"

Board member Michael Miller said, "Unfortunately in this particular incident a student tweeted something that was racially insensitive and some would consider to be threatening to the student as a result of this tweet going out and a student receiving the tweet, feeling what we consider possibly cyber bullying. We as a board acted on what the constituent board had already decided on."

Miller also spoke about the use of the word in the music industry saying, "Just because it's done in urban culture doesn't mean that it's the correct thing to do."

The hearing followed a back-and-forth between the school district and the North Charleston Constituent School Board. Patrick previously served a five-day suspension after apologizing for the offensive tweet, but CCSD administrators pushed for her removal from the school.

Elizabeth Moffly was the only board member present who voted against the plan.

"I think we are far reaching into the private lives of students and I think a lot of this can be handled in the private lives and we should not be making it part of public," said Moffly.

Patrick's lawyer, Green took issue with the fact there weren't any regulations in place beforehand.

"I think all a parent wants to know is what the punishment is going to be on the front end if my child makes a mistake. There were no clear rules or punishments in this situation," said Green.

During a hearing, the constituent school board voted unanimously to allow Patrick to stay in school, but the district appealed the decision, which led to Wednesday's hearing.

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