ALBANY, Calif. — A California school district is dishing out a lot of money after a social media bullying incident. Parents are furious at the Albany School Board over lawsuits the district settled to the tune of $400,000 and counting.
"That's what those images meant to you? They meant money?! So that you wouldn't get a bad reputation? What is wrong with you,” asked one parent.
The money is going to students who posted racist photos of other students on their Instagram last year.
"Images of herself compared to a gorilla and her friends with nooses tied around their necks,” explained one mother.
"It was comparing her to an animal, like a lion, because of her red hair and freckles,” added another parent.
Twelve students and a teacher were the targets of the post. After the photos were brought to Albany High School administrators and the district's attention, they allegedly took inappropriate disciplinary action against the posters, one of whom was punched in the face by another student.
"There was a lot of raucous and then they were escorted, almost paraded through a crowd of students. It should have been handled in a much more structured way,” Cheryl Sudduth said.
Darryl Yorkey is the attorney representing the six students who are suing the Albany Unified School District. His clients were involved with posting the Instagram photos. He says this is definitely a first amendment case.
"I don't think the school should have disciplined them at all and really that comes upon what happened here. This was speech that occurred completely outside of school on a platform that wasn't sponsored by school amongst students on a private account,” Yorkey said.
Now the parents of the victims have shared a list of demands with the school district including paying each of the targeted students $80,000— the same amount the Instagram posters received.