Students, Parents Upset After Black Student Is Disciplined, White Student Is Not

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MARS (KDKA) — An altercation at Mars Area High School ended with one student in the hospital and another suspended for five days, but some students and parents in the district say they are upset over how the discipline in this case was passed out.

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“I think kids, I mean, when they get bullied so much, they just get to the point where they feel nothing’s being done, they have to take matters into their own hands,” parent Carlee Valiknac said.

Sources tell KDKA-TV a white male student who is a senior at the school had reportedly been using the N-word repeatedly around the school.

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When classmates of one of the school’s few black students confronted the teen, a fight broke out. What has students up in arms is the way the district disciplined the two students.

The black student was suspended for five days for throwing the first punch. The white student has not faced any discipline.

“Sad. I mean, it’s pretty much like a hate crime, and it should be treated like one,” Valiknac said.

The school district sent parents a letter on Monday addressing what happened and assuring parents that “appropriate discipline will be pursued after the investigation is complete.”

“I thought it was ridiculous that nothing was done ahead of time because it could have been prevented all of the stuff that went down because it wasn’t just a one-time thing with him,” Valiknac said.

Some students had planned a walk out protest for Monday, but instead agreed to wear green shirts to school as a show of unity.

The parent of the suspended student said Tuesday, “The students have been calling and reaching out to [our son] to convey their support. We are hoping the school district will continue to assist us in addressing this matter so that [our son] may return to school immediately.”

“Tonight, we’re going to support this one,” Valiknac said.

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The school superintendent declined KDKA-TV’s invitation for an on-camera interview but did say that some students and parents only know the social media version of this story and that the district is doing a full investigation.

Watch Ralph Iannotti’s report —


The Mars Area School District Board of Education got an earful Tuesday night from some parents and students who claim that the district is not doing nearly enough to confront the problems of bullying and hateful speech.

One parent said her child has had racial problems at the high school. Another parent told school officials

“The district must change. There must be diversity,” another parent told school officials.

Mars School Superintendent Wes Shipley said he cannot not go into detail about the most recent incident — which has caused an uproar, especially on social media — because it’s still under investigation. But he hopes to soon have diversity worships at the High School.

“The District is confronted with a difficult situation at our high school where allegations of hateful rhetoric has resulted in a physical altercation,” Shipley said.

Parents and students at the meeting said school officials have pretty much ignored or tolerated the problems of bullying and racism up until now, and it’s time now to take a more proactive approach.

“The student who did the pushing and who had been harassed for months got suspended for three days, and the harasser got a warning. This same student is the one who all this controversy is about,” senior Shaun Birch said.

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“We need to have something in the handbooks to address whether or not there are going to be repercussions for those that make offensive terms toward other people of other nationalities or races,” parent Vanessa Johnson said.