ALEDO, Texas - Two Aledo ISD mothers say their children were the subjects of a racist online ‘slave auction’ involving students. They’re calling on the school board and the superintendent to take further steps to address the issue and change the culture.
The incident happened on Snapchat and involved some students discussing how much they would pay to buy their Black classmates. The mock slave auction and the district’s response to it has ignited a firestorm in the town.
Mioshi Johnson and her husband have been with the district since their ninth-grader started school. Over the years, they have forged many positive relationships, including notable moments like a district rally and sendoff when Chris played for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014 Super Bowl.
Now, in sharp contrast, an incident they hope will encourage much needed dialogue.
"Instead of letting something that was meant to dehumanize, belittle and embarrass them they, our sons, are using it to elevate themselves and the people in their school and our community," Johnson said.
Tamara Lawrence and her husband are also longstanding Aledo parents.
"My husband and I, as well as the Johnsons, specifically outlined with the administration a blueprint of how to move intentionally and mindfully through this process," Lawrence said. "We advised what important details needed to be shared about the incident including the use of the N-word."
The mothers wore t-shirts with the racist post and its N-word title to illustrate the late March incident by a group of students at the ninth grade center. Both families say the district let them down following weeks of complaints and meetings they initiated.
"We were read a plan, and email and thought we were moving forward in a positive way to protect our sons from this," Mioshi said.
They say they were disappointed with what followed: a school news item they insist watered down the reality.
"What was sent out was a blanket statement calling it cyber bullying and harassment which it is not. Let’s call it what it is racism at its core," Mioshi said.
It wasn’t until Monday the district issued a stronger statement and noted students involved had been disciplined, though they did not make specific the punishment or how many were dealt with.
"Our children needed to feel valued by their school as well as the educational community and there was a substantial gap," Lawrence said.
"Until we start having open honest conversations about the incidents they will continue to happen and be treated as isolated incidents," Mioshi said.
Johnson and Lawrence stood before the Aledo ISD school board on Thursday night to speak publicly about the racist social media chat.
Superintendent Susan Bohn addressed the parents directly during Thursday’s special called meeting of the school board.
"I want to just make clear that this incident was absolutely in violation of our policies and was absolutely unacceptable," she said.
"This is not our community," said board member Forest Collins "And we all have to look within ourselves and ask what we can do. I think that starts with listening, but then there must be action."
The district never said how the students were disciplined. And while it said law enforcement was part of the investigation, it’s unclear if police played a role in the discipline.
The board took no further action Thursday night, and it’s unclear when the board may formally address this again.
Both mothers who spoke are encouraged that a dialogue was opened.
"From this point on, it’s not what happened. It’s not when it happened or how we dealt with it then. It’s how we’re moving forward and dealing with it," Johnson said.
"What’s important for them to see is that their community is willing to fight for them as much as their parents are," Lawrence said.