'We're not happy.' Carmel parents furious they were not informed over threats in students' racist videos

Parents said not only are the videos appalling, but they also revealed a scary threat parents did not know about until now -- and they say that's a big problem.

News 12 Staff

Mar 3, 2023, 3:49 AM

Updated 448 days ago

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Parents in the Carmel Central School District got a look Thursday at the offensive videos officials said Carmel High School teens posted online.
They said not only are the videos appalling, but they also revealed a scary threat parents did not know about until now -- and they say that's a big problem.
In one of the videos, George Fischer Middle School's principal can be seen welcoming students, but it's not really him: Students used technology to impersonate him. This video then spirals into uses of the "N" word and other slurs for Black and Hispanic people.
"I literally broke down in tears," said mother Abigail Santana. She has lived in the district nearly 30 years. "Growing up as a minority, I was called the 'N' word."
She said the hatred she experienced has not changed, despite what she has heard from neighbors in previous News 12 reports.
"Maybe to them, that's not happening, but to the Black and brown and Asian community, it's happening. It has never stopped," Santana said. She now questions how the school district and Putnam County Sheriff officials are responding
When News 12 first reported about the videos, the district sent a statement, but it did not inform parents about the threats they said they learned as they watched the videos for the first time.
"Saying things like, 'I'm going to bring a machine gun and kill all those Black kids,' no one's talking about that," Santana said. She wants to know why the district did not say anything.
Some parents said they would not have sent their kids to school had they known.
"Our kids went to school for two weeks. Two weeks," Santana added.
She said the district finally held the first of two meetings on Wednesday that she had to fight for.
"I think they don't know what to do and that's a problem," Santana said.
She also still cannot figure out why the students cannot be charged with a crime nor why they cannot be expelled. She said the district will not say how they are being punished, but she thinks they should be expelled.
"They should not be able to step foot on these premises ever again and us parents, we're not happy. We're not," she added.
News 12 reached out to both Sheriff and the district on Thursday night to get some answers but did not hear back from them. The full, original statement from the district can be read here:
Dear Carmel Community,
Earlier this week, Carmel Central School District administration was made aware of individuals on the social media app TikTok that were posing as the District, and posting fake, inappropriate videos created using artificial intelligence and impersonating different members of the District administration and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.
Through investigation, it was found that these accounts' creators were Carmel High School students, and the incident is being dealt with in accordance with the District’s Code of Conduct.
As an organization committed to diversity and inclusion, the Carmel Central School District Board of Education is appalled at, and condemns, these recent videos, along with the blatant racism, hatred and disregard for humanity displayed in some of them.
Words in a statement alone feel inadequate. We must go beyond words. Collectively, we must work to end racism. We must look within ourselves and reflect on how we may be propagating racist stereotypes, policies and conditions. We must ask ourselves and others, “What can we do to change our current environment and expectations, and work to create an anti-racist school community?” We must listen and learn, and then we must act. To do the first without the second is simply not an option.
The Board of Education is committed, now more than ever, to ensuring that our programs, our actions, and our District commit to our continued work toward a fully inclusive school community – one where all voices are heard and where all perspectives matter. We reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our work and the District’s K-12 programs, and we urge our school community and the community at large to join in this effort, knowing that it will create a path to a better society and a better future.
We do not tolerate discrimination, harassment or racism, either in our programs, or from the members of our District. We hold everyone in our school system to standards of basic respect and human decency.
No one is as strong as all of us, and together we can work to unite and send a strong message to all that racism and all forms of hatred have no place in our schools.
Sincerely,
Carmel Central School District Board of Education
Debra Heitman-Cayea, President
Melissa Orser, Vice President
Valerie Crocco, Trustee
John C. Curzio II, Trustee
Dawn Dall, Trustee
Matthew Morello, Trustee
Jason Paraskeva, Trustee


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