An investigation is underway at an Indiana high school after a photo caption in the school’s 2020 yearbook listed a student on the boys basketball team as “BLACK GUY” instead of by his name.
After images of the photo in the Brown County High School yearbook were posted to social media Monday, the superintendent apologized that evening in a Facebook Live video.
“It has been brought to our attention that that yearbook has a truly incomprehensible statement included in it,” the superintendent, Laura Hammack, said, adding that officials were “trying to better understand what that situation is all about.”
Hammack declined a request for an interview Thursday and referred NBC News to a statement she and Brown County High School principal, Matthew Stark, released Monday.
In the Facebook video, she said that she did not know all of the details of how it happened and that an investigation had been launched. Hammack said that officials spent the day with the student’s family to ensure that they understand “this awful situation” will be fixed.
“This is a clear violation of our nondiscrimination policy,” Hammack said.
The student has not been publicly identified. He appears to be the only Black or multiracial player in the team photo, although state data indicates that there were no Black students enrolled at the school last year.
The matter is not “inconsequential,” Hammack said. “And that means that consequences will need to be deployed.”
To rectify the situation, officials are considering republishing new yearbooks and having the school district foot the expense.
“This yearbook fundamentally needs to be fixed,” Hammack said.
She said that she has heard from some 2020 graduates who are “sickened by this” and that she “couldn’t agree more.”
Hammack said she wanted the community “to understand that this is fundamentally a situation that we are taking as the only priority” and “we’re working very hard to make sure that we can move forward.”
Brown County High School is a public school in Nashville, roughly 50 miles south of Indianapolis. There were 577 students enrolled in the 2019-20 school year, the majority of whom — 92.2 percent — are white, according to state data.
Hammack said she was “very much devastated for the family that needs to go through this” and “heartbroken” for the community.
“As an educator, my only response that I know to do is to dig in, to learn more and to use resources to be able to advance our understanding and awareness so that we can do the same for our students,” Hammack said. “And we are committed to that.”