A Virginia school district has vowed to take action against racially insensitive memes circulating among students. Parents reported the memes, which mocked the death of George Floyd, to Cave Spring High School administrators last weekend. Since then, the district has reported an alarming trend involving a variety of offensive memes shared by students.
The controversy erupted following a football game between Cave Spring and Hidden Valley High School on Friday, March 2. Cave Spring won the game 17-14 in its first victory against the neighboring school in ten years.
After the game, an unidentified Cave Spring student reportedly shared a photoshopped image of Floyd and Derek Chauvin, the officer standing trial for his murder. The doctored photo showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, with the Cave Springs logo superimposed over the officer’s face and the Hidden Valley logo covering Floyd’s. Media outlets have declined to post the images.
A Swift Community Backlash
By the following day, multiple parents had reported the post to Roanoke County Public Schools. Upon investigating, the district had determined that multiple students had posted offensive memes celebrating the football victory. The additional posts were “not related to George Floyd, but equally as deplorable,” according to district spokesperson Chuck Lionberger. He declined to describe the posts to the Roanoke Times.
“At no point was there any question that this was abhorrent,” Lionberger said.
In a statement, District Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely called the images “abhorrent” and “disturbing.”
“[The images] do not reflect the values of Cave Spring High School or Roanoke County Public Schools,” he said. “We strive to provide positive, welcoming communities that value respect for all students and families.”
According to the New York Times, district administrators have spoken to the students responsible, whom Dr. Nicely says have “all been very remorseful.” He added that even though “students are still developing […] that does not mean there are not consequences.”
Meanwhile, Lionberger said the district would investigate why the students didn’t understand that “this was a bad idea.”
“Roanoke County Public Schools does not condone any behavior that could be considered racially offensive,” he said in a statement. “We are investigating and will take appropriate actions.”