ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WJBK) - The Royal Oak school district was stunned Wednesday and Thursday when video of seventh graders chanting 'build the wall' surfaced on social media. But the district says the 8 second clip doesn't reflect on the entire school.
Police sat outside Royal Oak Middle School (ROMS) Thursday after parents said they were concerned for the safety of some students when other students were caught on video chanting "Build the wall".
Administrators spent Thursday trying to calm fears within the school. School superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin released a statement saying the school is "committed to providing a safe, secure, and supportive learning environment for all students. We addressed this incident when it occurred. We are addressing it today. We are working with our students to help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others in their school community. "
He finished the press release with this statement:
"In responding to this incident - indeed in responding to this election - we need to hear each other’s stories, not slogans, we need to work towards understanding, not scoring points, and we need to find a way to move forward that respects and values each and every member of our community. We will be working on this in school today. Please work on this with us."
Later in the day on Thursday, ROMS principal Mr. Noonan addressed the school in a video that was posted on YouTube. You can watch it below.
One of the students, 7th grader Luis, was inside the cafetera when the chant was started.
"I'm feeling bad because of the reactions, how many people were chanting it, and how offended some people might be about it," he said.
For his dad, Bill, it's even more troubling.
"I have a son who is Hispanic and with the political climate where in and the intolerance that has been dredged up, that concerns me," Bill said. "He went to school but then more people were picking up their students early so I decided to as well. A lot of parents in the office."
"I just think it was still stupid how the kids were saying that stuff even if they didn't know what it meant," Luis said.
The video spurred hateful comments online with some parents voicing their concern about student safety. That's why Royal Oak Police were stationed outside the school all day.
Lewis-Lakin says teachers and staff are being proactive.
"We've asked teachers to take time to talk with students," Lewis-Lakin said.
He did not say if the students participating in the chant will be disciplined.
"Yyes, we hold them accountable for what they say, but more importantly we help them to learn. Because we are at school and that's her business," he said.
Luis and his father met with the superintendent, for some reassurance.
"I'm happy about how the school is handling it," Bill said. "The police presence, the reassurance from the superintendent, I'm confident."