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Petition Demands Expulsion for Students Who Spelled Out N-Word on T-Shirts

The Short of It

A petition is demanding explusion for a group of Arizona students who spelled out the N-word on their T-shirts and posed for a photo that went viral on social media last week.

The Lowdown

The offensive image in question shows six smiling Desert Vista High School teens wearing T-shirts that spell out N-I-*-*-E-R. According to ABC15 in Phoenix, the lettered shirts were part of a larger message for a senior photo that had the class spelling out BEST*YOU'VE*EVER*SEEN*CLASS*OF*2016. There's now a petition calling for the expulsion of the students and the resignation of their principal.

"This hurtful use of a racial slur is a complete disregard for the dignity of the black community in Arizona and across the nation and the punishment does not fit the total ignorance and cruelty of the crime," the petition states. "We demand the resignation of the school's principal, Christine Barela, immediately for deeming this 5-day vacation from school an acceptable punishment. The six girls in question need to be expelled from the high school and its district to understand the gravity of their actions to the fullest. These expressions of racism will not be tolerated any longer."

The petition already has more than 38,000 signatures.

For her part, principal Barela sent the following message to the families of students at the school. "We share your outrage and disappointment over the actions of a handful of our students today. We want to make it crystal clear those actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Desert Vista. Those actions do not represent who we are as a campus. We can assure you we will discipline these students in accordance with district policy and our student handbook. While we don't discuss individual discipline, we can tell you that in addition, the obvious need for sensitivity training will be addressed."

Other Desert Vista students also wanted to make it clear that the photo did not represent their school, including the Black Student Union, which tweeted out a message to its followers late Friday afternoon that said: 

The Upshot

Phoenix-area civil rights activist the Rev. Jarrett Maupin says he and other activists plan to meet today with the district's superintendent.

"The racist images and discriminatory behavior created and exhibited by Desert Vista High School students is shocking, outrageous, and should give everyone cause for concern," he said.

What do you think? Is this just an example of misguided teen behavior? Does the punishment fit the crime? Or should the girls be expelled?

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