Gwinnett County high school band spells racial slur during halftime show

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Parents are outraged after members of a Gwinnett County high school band displayed a racial slur during their halftime performance Friday night.

Members of the Brookwood High School band used the letters of their mascot, the Broncos, to spell a derogatory word.

The principal did send an email to parents saying the students involved would face disciplinary actions, but parents tell FOX 5 they want the students responsible expelled.

They say they also want to have a conversation with school officials about racism on campus at the school.

“You’re bold enough on senior night, that means your parents your grandparents are there ... you're bold enough to spell those words, and stay there long enough to have everyone take pictures?” said mother Shawn Myers, whose son is a freshman in the band at Brookwood High School. “That’s not right.”

Myers says she was appalled to see members of the band spell out a racial slur with their instruments.

“It isn’t a raccoon,” Myers said. “The mascot is a horse, it’s a Bronco, and the “B” and the “R” were nowhere near.”

Myers and several other parents FOX 5 spoke with say they don't know or care if this was a senior prank – it's still hurtful and racist.

“Haven't heard it in years, it's to belittle black people, it's an insult,” she said. “It’s just like saying the n-word, but this is worse because it's coming from students at a public high school,” said Myers.

In an email, Brookwood High School principal William Bo Ford Jr. said they have identified the four band members, as well as two others who did not plan the prank but provided false information to administrators.

"In our interviews, the students-- two of whom are African American, one of whom is Asian, and one of whom is Hispanic - indicated that this was intended as a joke, one that they thought would be funny," Ford said. "However, they acknowledged that they knew this racist term was not acceptable."

The six students will be disciplined with punishments "commensurate with their involvement in this incident," Ford said.

"This is a teachable moment for all of us, and students need to be aware that their actions and words have consequences," he said.

Myers said her son is uncomfortable going back to school, so she wants the students behind this to take ownership of their actions.

“I don't even know if this is a black-white issue, because my understanding is a couple of them were not white, so they just did something that was wrong and they need to be held accountable,” Myers said. “I want them expelled. I will not stop until these students are expelled. They do not need to be back in that school until they learn that everyone is there for the same reason – regardless of color – to get an education.”

The email from the principal said the incident was hurtful and disappointing. He said the school will now also review its halftime procedures.