ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Only on Action News Jax, new pictures show local students covered in painted-on swastikas. One social media post even included a racist threat.
An Action News Jax Investigation has revealed those students have been disciplined.
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Action News Jax investigator Ben Becker found that the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is now looking into the threat.
The parents Becker spoke with shared with him a letter outlining their concerns over how the St. Johns County School District is handling the situation.
Swastikas, Adolph Hitler and Snapchats with a racial slur: These are the social media images circulating around Creekside High School.
“Really disappointed," said St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson.
Becker sat down with Forson to ask him about the troubling images. The school district can’t legally disclose the punishment. Sources tell Action News Jax that one student involved with the swastika picture was initially suspended for two days. Another received a Saturday detention.
“Is that sufficient?” Becker asked.
“I can't speak to whether that's sufficient or not because I wasn't the person making the decision about that particular incident," Forson said.
It turns out that decision was made, at least in part, by Paul Abbatinozzi. He heads school safety and code of conduct issues with the St. Johns County School District.
“Do you believe this is a systemic issue?” Becker asked.
"No, I do not," Abbatinozzi said.
Outraged parents sent Becker a copy of the letter they also sent to the school district Wednesday. It says last week, “a Jewish student received provocative pictures of two female students with their bodies and background of the pictures covered with swastikas and other anti-Semitic slurs.”
The letter goes on to say just Tuesday night, "another text message involving other students was sent with similar content." That text is referring to a picture with Hitler with the subsequent response, "burn them” and followed with a racial slur.
As a result of that threat, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said it did a threat assessment with the student and the student’s family.
"Do you see how this could be offensive to not only Jewish students but African-American students as well?” Becker asked.
“I’ve shared that. I absolutely think it's offensive," Abbatinozzi said.
Abbatinozzi said he would continue to investigate, and four hours after he spoke with Becker, a school spokesperson called him and said the “consequences” for the students involved have increased. Although they couldn’t share how, a source said each of the students involved in the swastika pictures received a three-day suspension.
UPDATED INFORMATION: The district said the student who made the threat and used a racial slur was disciplined, but it could not say how the student was disciplined.
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