Kevin Lewis, WJLA-TV, February 13, 2019
Staff at Winston Churchill High School caught a number of students exchanging “N-word passes” during the lunch hour Friday.
The pieces of paper, reportedly handed from student to student, provided passholders with “permission” to use the N-word. Whether the teenagers involved were joking or serious remains a topic of hot debate.
ABC7 has learned the passes were not homemade, but rather printed copies of an online meme that depicts a yellow Willy Wonka Golden Ticket with the words “N-WORD PASS” photoshopped onto the digital image.
“One person saw it and got offended,” added Norman [a student]. “That’s it.”
That student, who Norman said is a black female, notified Churchill staff members Friday about the passes. Principal Brandice Heckert acted swiftly, and offered harsh criticism of those involved.
“I am deeply disappointed and appalled that any student in our school would chose to engage in such a racist, hateful act,” Heckert wrote in an email sent to the Churchill school community Monday evening. “This behavior is disgraceful and does not reflect the values expected of Winston Churchill students.”
Montgomery County Public Schools told ABC7 around 15 “N-word passes” were distributed throughout Churchill. The school system further shared that the three primary culprits consist of a “mixed group” of races.
“It should have been a one day suspension at the most, just protocol for schools, but it ended up being a lot more than that,” said Norman, who further shared that administrators gave him detention simply because he refused to “snitch” on his friends.
Two mothers of students involved told ABC7 they believe Churchill administrators “grossly mischaracterized” what was simply meant to be a spoof. One of the mothers went so far as to call the school’s handling of the matter “libelous.”
In light of this incident, a Churchill PTSA meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, will now focus solely on “tolerance, racism, and bias.”