'Modified expulsion' for white student seen beating Black student

Students at an Arkansas high school are not having it.

Many Fordyce High School students are enraged and have pushed back against their school’s handling of punishments rendered to two students, one Black, the other, white.

What’s at issue for the protesting students is they contend their school administrators engaged in unfair treatment after a Black student and a white student were given an equal suspension for fighting, despite the Black student’s previous reports of being bullied.

The encounter, which happened in Fordyce, Arkansas, was captured on video which has since gone viral, according to a local station, Fox16.

The video clip shows a Black male student being punched, kicked, pushed and placed in a choke hold by a white student in a school locker room. The targeted student appears to fall unconscious, yet, the assaulting white student continues to kick him in his back and head.

Despite the horrific imagery of the video and reports of the Black studen being bullied for weeks, if not months, the news station reports that both students were suspended for the same amount of time.

Unhappy and dissatisfied with the school’s response some students engaged in hallway “sit-ins” to protest the administration’s handling of the situation. 

“The same amount of punishment, like, that’s not right,” Enough Smith, an alumnus of the school who graduated in 2021, told Fox16. “You can clearly see in the video that he didn’t want to fight the guy, and the guy still was picking on him, throwing shoes on him.”

The school district has reportedly given the white student a “modified expulsion,” while the school board has refused to give comment to the Black student’s current status, according to a Fox16 report.

Parents and community members flooded a school board meeting March 3 at Fordyce Middle School where they expressed frustration that bullying has been allowed to continue in the district.

An inquiry into the fight continues, according to statements given by Fordyce School District Superintendent Dr. Judy Hubbell to the Camden News in early March.

“This video came to light about two days ago and we can’t discuss student discipline because that is confidential information. We are in the process of investigating this case and taking care of it,” said Hubbell to the news outlet. “We don’t want bullying on our campus. We want to have a safe campus, but this just came to light and we are working on this, we are talking through the process.”

Fox 16 reported that an organization called the Martin Luther King Commission will hold a workshop for students about bullying in response to the incident. The question remains, is such a workshop and a “modified expulsion” of the aggressor in the conflict nearly enough?