Parents of Metamora High School students who were sent a racially charged video last week held a joint press conference with the high school superintendent on Tuesday.
Anettee Kohlrus’ adopted, African American son was one of the two students who was delivered the video.
She says her whole family “was hurt” by the incident, but doesn’t believe the four students who made the video meant to harm.
“I really just believe it was a stupid thing they were doing… this is all from what they hear on social media, Youtube and what they hear,” Kohlrus said.
She hopes the school will address bullying while still holding the students responsible.
Metamora Township High School, District 122 Superintendent Sean O’Laughlin said that the four students who made the video, all football players, have been suspended from the team for the rest of the season.
“When we came to understand criminal charges could be filed, that changed the severity of the consequences for the students…these students will no longer be representing Metamora High School football on the field this year,” O’Laughlin said.
He said the district will support the kids in the video and those affected through increased counseling and education.
That’s what Willie Williams is asking for. His son, an African American, was also sent the racially charged video last week.
He learned about the video last Monday. On Tuesday, the students involved met with district leaders and apologized for their behavior. On Thursday, the district met with Williams and apologized for the students’ behavior. On Sunday, Williams met with district leaders, the students and their parents.
“The first thing I said was I forgive you and I hugged them,” Williams said.
He said his son responded to the video with “dignity.”
The district said it plans to hold workshops and training centered on cultural competency.
Williams will also speak at an upcoming conference with school officials focusing on similar issues.
Ultimately, he hopes bullying at the school will be curbed.
Williams was vocal about the incident on his public social media page, partially prompting, what he said, were “hundreds” of emails.
“It’s not just about race. It’s about the bullying aspect. I have mothers contacting me about their kids committing suicide.”
Kohlrus said the incident sparked a conversation about race in the community, one she hopes will have a positive effect.
“I don’t want this to be a black and white issue,” she said. I want this to be an opportunity to end the hate.”