Racially offensive promposal posted on social media prompts school district investigation

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 23, 2018

The Sarasota County, Florida School District confirms they are looking into a racially offensive promposal that was posted to social media.


A spokesperson for the district confirms the Riverview High School senior posted a picture that they worry will be a disruptor to the school and student safety. 

The post made to Snapchat reads, "If I was Black I'd be picking cotton, but I'm white so I'm picking U 4 Prom?"

The district tells us they have not concluded if the 18-year-old will be banned from prom as it's an ongoing investigation. 

Sarasota County Schools has released the following statement on the incident:

On Sunday night, the Sarasota County School District was made aware of a social media post from a Riverview High School student that has caused a concerning situation. It involves a senior who made a “promposal” to another student that was racial in nature. Many who saw the post, and subsequent apology, are understandably upset with its contents and commentary. Neither the school district nor Riverview High School condones or supports the message conveyed in the post. This incident remains an on-going investigation and any disciplinary action and recommendation will be made accordingly.

This morning, a message was sent to parents and students about the incident. In addition, counselors were made available at Riverview to any individual or group wanting to talk about the issue of race and the contents of the social media post. Likewise, the school district is working with local and national civic leaders, including the NAACP, to develop a roundtable forum to discuss the issue of race – not just at Riverview, but district-wide. Although this message is one student’s opinion, we take the matter of racial relations and school safety seriously, and we look forward to working with our students and these outside groups to have a meaningful and informative dialogue and expanded curriculum related to this important national topic.

Sarasota County Schools also tells us they sent a text alert to parents Monday morning about the situation and that they plan to have more information late Monday. 

The student, who we are not identifying, also posted an apology to social media. 

The following message was sent to parents and students on Monday morning: 

Good morning. This is Kathy Wilks, acting principal of Riverview High School. We want to make everyone aware of a student’s social media post that has caused a very concerning situation. It involves one of our seniors and his “promposal” to another student. It was racial in nature and administration became aware of it last night. 

Many who saw the post are understandably upset with its contents as well as the subsequent commentary to the post. Riverview High School absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post.  

The student’s post is under investigation by administration; the parents of the students involved have been contacted and appropriate action will be taken based on the investigation. We are focused on ensuring that Riverview High School provides a safe and secure environment for all of our students and that all students feel welcome and understand the value that they all bring to our school community. Our guidance counselors and administrators are available for any student who wish to speak to someone regarding the issue.  Riverview High School has a wonderful student population and we know our school will use this incident as an opportunity to have productive conversations about respect for one another.  We look forward to the start of a new week and know that together, we will demonstrate our pride in the spirit of our school through caring for each other.  Thank you.

The Sarasota chapter of the NAACP tells us they will recommend to the district that the student involved should not be allowed to return to any school within Sarasota, 

President Trevor Harvey said in a statement:

"I have also asked for an investigation into school administration in their lack of response to students who bring race issues to their attention."

One Riverview High School senior tells us there is a bigger picture than just the post.

Erin Williams said the past few weeks, she has felt uncomfortable, "I feel like I don't belong because of the color of my skin."

The district said they are looking into recent matters dealing with racial and other socioeconomic disparities at Riverview High School.