Students say cropped photo shows racial tension at Dunwoody High

A doctored photo of Dunwoody High School cheerleaders that deleted the lone black student sparked a rally by students demanding equal treatment in a school where they say they face an increasing racial divide.

DeKalb County School District officials said they are aware of the concerns about racial tensions at the school, and a plan is being developed to address issues and keep abreast of progress.

Black students and parents, though, are skeptical, and say little has been done to address a sentiment that has always gone too far.

“It’s hard to go to class and constantly hear racial slurs and jokes thrown around. It’s really hard,” said Arryanna Dixon, a senior at Dunwoody High School. “I complained (a white student) said the n-word to me … and nothing was done.”

Social media posts began popping up last week showing a group photo of cheerleaders and its edited version, which eliminated the only black person in the picture.

DeKalb Board of Education member Stan Jester wrote on his blog this weekend that the photo had inadvertently been cropped by a photo system at Walgreens. He also posted a short clip from Monday’s rally.

Jester wrote that there’s a 20-year tradition at Dunwoody High for the varsity cheerleaders to give the coach a photo collage, and that a parent brought a camera to Senior Night to capture images. When the pictures were put into a photo system at a Walgreens drugstore, it cropped all of them into a smaller frame. he said.

Jester did not attribute the information to anyone else.

The teen cropped out of the photo addressed the controversy on social media, saying she found the picture while looking through a pile of photos on her coach’s desk.

“In the group photo, the only BLACK girl was cropped out,” she wrote. “The person who did it should have simply taken responsibility. But instead, they let the situation get out of hand …”

Schelle Purcell, whose daughter helped organize the rally Monday morning, said it’s the latest in a long line of issues she’s heard from students attending the school.

“And if it was a mistake, the photo should have never left Walgreens at all,” she said. “There never should have been room for the photo to circulate at all.

“Now, you want to say it was an accident.”

Purcell said when her daughter, Chanel Fairley, was nominated for Homecoming court as a freshman during the 2016-2017 school year, the teen was told by others that black girls just don’t win court positions at Dunwoody.

Chanel won both last year and this year.

Chanel said further proof of the school’s ongoing tension came after the rally, when white students complained about its purpose.

“All the white kids who weren’t for the protest wanted to argue about it afterward,” she said. “You might say you’re not racist, but look who’s mad.”

Superintendent Steve Green said in a statement that the district would more aggressively address the lack of diversity in advanced classes, form a junior leadership council to advise campus leaders and provide a space for open and honest dialogue.

“Students at Dunwoody High School are requesting more from us academically and in their school climate,” he said. “Our role as both educators and responsible citizens is to listen to the concern driving the expression, and use that information to support our children’s intellectual and social growth.”

Dixon, the senior, said she isn’t holding her breath about progress.

“I like they’re trying to address the problem,” she said. “I’m trying to be hopeful, but it’s really hard. There’s still incidents going on, and people are not being punished for it.”

More news from Dunwoody

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Education

Do race and class explain why some parents never get benefit of the doubt?
Do race and class explain why some parents never get benefit of the doubt?
Stephanie Jones is a professor at the University of Georgia in the department of educational theory and practice. She focuses on gender, social class and education and works with teachers and schools to address the needs of poor and working students and families.  A former elementary school teacher, Dr. Jones is author of “Girls, Social...
Politicians’ portrayal of teachers shifts with … politics
Politicians’ portrayal of teachers shifts with … politics

In most political debates about education, teachers are excoriated as selfish or exalted as selfless. Either they care only about the money or care nothing about it. Those archetypes emerged in the recent red state revolts in Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona in which teachers marched out of schools and into statehouses to demand change...
Spanking still allowed in Georgia, U.S. schools
Spanking still allowed in Georgia, U.S. schools

To spank or not to spank: That debate is once again in the headlines. The Tennessee Legislature on April 17 passed a bill that bans the spanking of disabled children at public schools. If signed into law, the measure would bar school officials from using corporal punishment on kids with disabilities, unless their parents give written approval...
Raising black student enrollment at UGA still a challenge
Raising black student enrollment at UGA still a challenge

Amalie Rosales asked a group of African-American students at a University of Georgia reception in Atlanta a question that reflecting concerns about what she will face as an incoming minority student. “How do you view diversity on campus?,” asked Rosales, 18, a senior at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County. Freshman Caleb Kelly, a...
Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests
Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests

A handful of schools across metro Atlanta participated in National Walkout events Friday, with activities and messages that varied in shape, scale and focus, on topics from gun control to police brutality. The events were held Friday to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, when two students opened fire inside their Littleton...
More Stories