In the wake of a racist video surfacing, Cullman City Schools officials say they are taking steps to address "inclusion and acceptance."
The video, recorded off-campus, features a student saying “Kill the n****” and “White Power” multiple times.
According to a statement released Friday afternoon, the system is "looking to launch listening sessions with different groups of students to discuss matters of inclusion and acceptance, in a forward-looking effort to address the challenges students face."
Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff addressed the video during Tuesday night's school board meeting. A group of parents attempted to speak to the board about how the incident has been handled by the system, but were not allowed because they had not signed up to do so.
Board member Jason Neal suggested the group sign up to speak at a future board meeting or set up an appointment to meet with Kallhoff to speak about the incident.
Kallhoff said he had been in contact with the Alabama State Department of Education on guidance for best practices and strategies to encourage acceptance of others despite differences. After the meeting Kallhoff spoke to parent Jocelyn Logan, whose son, a Cullman High School student, is Black.
Logan said this wasn't the first racist incident and her son had been threatened.
The official statement from the system says that "while there is no tolerance for racism in its schools," the board’s counsel advised that a school system cannot punish the students for off-campus actions.
Officials say the school system has two Mental Health Specialists who are talking with students in small groups about "conflict, meanness and bullying" and they are having conversations about the importance of "kindness and acceptance" of others who may be different.
Administratively, the system will also host multiple small group listening sessions with adolescent students with the goal of learning what it is like to be a student in the school system, struggles they encounter, and to hear potential solutions they believe could make a positive change in the system and community.
“After listening to our students and collecting their perceptions and feelings we will determine what updates are needed in our code of conduct and Board Policies to make sure our students feel safe at school,” Kallhoff said.
In terms of professional development for teachers and administrators, officials say the system is already working with the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools on resources and activities to increase awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“This Board and I are tasked and committed to lead the teaching and learning of all students enrolled in the Cullman City School System no matter their race, gender, or differing beliefs,” Kallhoff said.