MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — Friday was not your typical school day in the Gateway School District.
Chad Steubenbort, the president of the Gateway School Board, said, “We had 300 students absent today from school. Typical absentee rate is about 70.”READ MORE: White House, CDC Monitoring Omicron Variant As Holiday Travel Is Expected To Increase
Besides the high student absenteeism on Friday, sources say several dozen teachers also called off all due to fears of possible trouble.
The rumors started flying after an off-campus fight Tuesday involving two students; one was white and the other was African American.
The situation escalated on social media, allegedly with racial slurs, taunting and threats.
On Thursday night, the school district sent out an email saying it wanted students and staff to come together to celebrate diversity. It said some students were even wearing tee-shirts supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement.READ MORE: On Eve Of Vaccine Deadline, Number Of Allegheny County Employees Refusing Vaccination Appears Low
One woman addressed a special meeting of the Gateway School Board Friday, saying, “What you did was make all the white kids scared of the black kids, and you made the black kids pissed off at the white kids, and so all you did was make all these kids not go to school.”
Another woman said her son, who was not involved in the original fight, was suspended pending expulsion because he responded to someone’s threat made on Facebook.
“If one child is going to get in trouble, they were all wrong, they were all stupid. Kids are going to be kids and boys are going to be boys. They were all wrong. You don’t punish the black child and expect racial tensions to be okay,” she said.
Steubenbort told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I think we dropped the ball. We need to look into why the email was sent out. I believe from the email further problems were created.”MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Rain Moves In Along With Warmer Temperatures
Kenneth Huston, the president of the Allegheny East NAACP chapter, said, “I think the district is taking the proper steps in addressing the issue. My concern is that we don’t enflame the situation and make it more than what it really is.”