POTOMAC, Md. — Several students were passing out "N-word passes" during lunch at a high school in Montgomery County, Md.
The passes were distributed during lunch at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md last Friday. The paper passes were given to other students with the intention of the passes giving the receiver the permission to use the N-word, according to the school's principal.
Principal Brandice C. Heckert did not indicate the precise consequences of the students involved, but said in a letter sent home to parents that punishment will match the severity of the action.
WUSA9 spoke with a student who said he did not think the stunt was funny.
"Well, I'm sure everyone can say, yeah, it's a joke after the event has happened and they've been told it's wrong, but with a word like that, you've really got to do your research," Alexander Lindsay, student at Churchill said.
His father said he hopes people will learn from this experience.
"I do also believe that it is an opportunity for the school and for the students to take the responsibility to learn more - to better understand the suffering that these kind of terms cause," Mark Lindsay said.
The following is the full letter sent from Principal Heckert on Monday night:
"I wanted to update you regarding the incident I shared in my letter on Friday, February 8. After an investigation, we have confirmed that, on Friday, several students participated in the distribution of “N-word passes” during lunch. As we learned through the investigation, the N-word pass is a paper pass given from one person to another that gives the receiver permission to use the N-word.
I am deeply disappointed and appalled that any student in our school would chose to engage in such a racist, hateful act. This behavior is disgraceful and does not reflect the values expected of Winston Churchill students. Not only is this behavior hurtful to our community, but it also undermines all the great attributes our students have to offer. I made a promise to all students that I would not ignore acts of intolerance and hatred. Behavior that is disrespectful and/or intolerant will not be accepted. While I cannot share specific consequences for the students involved, please be assured that they will match the severity of the action and will be in alignment with the Student Code of Conduct.
To move forward, I will be engaging our student body in a conversation about how to foster a welcoming and respectful climate for all. I met with all staff this morning to inform them of the incident from last week and instructed them to acknowledge this act of hatred that occurred within our own walls. They will also be available to any students who may want to discuss last week’s incident or any other incident that has occurred. In addition, this afternoon, I met with student leaders, several staff members and other students to talk about the incident and to discuss what can be done collectively to not only teach acceptance and tolerance, but to also celebrate the different cultures within our community. This must be a collaborative effort. I will be looking to work more closely with our numerous parent organizations and feeder schools to support and educate our community. The PTSA Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, will solely be an open forum on tolerance, racism, and bias. I will be working closely with members of our equity office for support as well.
I feel very fortunate to be the principal at Winston Churchill High School, but acts of hatred and intolerance frustrate and sadden me because I believe that we are better than this. This act, or like behavior, is not how I want or expect Winston Churchill students to be remembered. I want all students to know that we will address concerns and that their voice matters. I have included some resources for talking with your children below. Thank you."