Readers React: Northern Utah schools struggling with racism

Tuesday , February 27, 2018 - 11:38 AM4 comments

A recent incident involving a black Layton High School student who says he was spit on and called a racial slur at a school dance before being suspended himself quickly caught the attention of Standard-Examiner readers.

Teague Casper, a 17-year-old senior high school student, attended Layton High’s Sweetheart Dance Feb. 10 and was dancing with a group of friends when he said he was approached by a white student from Clearfield High School. The student shoved him, spat on his face and called him a “n-----,” Casper claims. 

“I freaked out,” Casper said. “I hit him to get away from him.”

He said he ran to the bathroom to calm down. Administrators then took him into an office. After interviewing the white student, an assistant principal and the school’s resource officer came and told Casper he might be facing criminal charges and was suspended from school.

According to school records provided by Casper to the Standard-Examiner, the teen was suspended for two days and will not be allowed to attend his senior prom. Davis School District officials said statements from both students led to the decision to suspend Casper. It is not clear if the other student, who cannot be identified because of student privacy laws, faced any punishment.

RELATED: Layton High, schools across Northern Utah struggling with handling of racism

Here is what Standard-Examiner readers had to say on and Facebook. (All comments are verbatim.) 

Bob Becker: The question arises, where do HS students slinging the n-word around, posting things like the noose post, etc.. get all this. I presume they get it (racism) at home, that the attitudes and language are normal there. And so they bring them to school and social media daily. Schools can, should, limit expression of that racism at school. But not sure what they can do about its home-brewed cause. Ignorance breeds ignorance.

That said, you throw the first punch at a school dance, you're going to catch a suspension. And should.

Anna Beagley: Spitting on someone is assault, calling him the n word makes it a hate crime. Teague had every legal right to defend himself against these actions.

Xtension: Our state has a population that is 2% black. How can the rest of us possibly relate to how these people of color feel being in such a minority? And how SHOULD they feel when we excuse racist actions against them. Weber High. Morgan High. Now Layton High. These aren’t “kids being kids”. These are kids being racist, hateful, and shameful. It’s time to stop this behavior. And that has to happen in the home.

Kimberly Bain: Teague had a right to defend himself against a hate crime. That is what this is, hate-fueled attack on his person. The white kid AND his parents need to be held accountable if Teague had spit on that white kid, I feel he would have still be expended. This is a racially charged situation the white boy instigated. Teague has a right to "Stand and Defend." I stand with Teague!

Alisa May: Our family stands with Teague. He had every right to defend himself after being spat upon and called a racial slur. Utah's racism is coming to the surface and must be eradicated. These children are learning from the adults around them. We must face the racism within ourselves and teach our children to recognize it and fight it with us. We must do better! ETA: The administration of Layton High needs to do better and the entire school district should do additional training so incidents like this do not happen again.

Anthony Scoma: This is a clear case of the fighting words doctrine that has been part of US jurisprudence since 1942.

"There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting words" those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality." -Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

A student's rights do not stop at the doors of the school and Casper had a right to defend himself against racist harassment and antagonization. Unfortunately, the school system does not appear interested in taking into account the reality of the situation and would instead like to be reactionary cowards that punish minority students without question.

Jennifer Willie: School to Prison Pipeline is alive and thriving in the Davis school district. I have one son that has had great teachers at his current high school and go above and beyond. Then my other son if he even looks like he might say the "wrong" thing...he us in trouble. The difference? The color of his skin. The teachers are part of the problem not just what the kids are learning at home. Teachers, Principals, ect...There is no cultural diversity at all. It's really sad. Teague being punished is what I would expect. This should have never left the school. The kid who made the racist comment and spit should have immediately been removed from the school. He wasn't even a student there. What did he expect to happen? He should have been beat down. That is what to expect. The days of expecting us to just walk the "bigger" person (whatever that means) is over..We are takingv action!! Lesson? Watch your mouth and who you talk to.

Sarah Burningham Simkins: We need to start owning these issues of racism that are cropping up in our schools here in Utah and handling them appropriately. C’mon parents, this is an excellent teaching opportunity. Teach your kids that this is not ok. These types of incidents keep happening and the message I keep seeing is that the “kids were just messing around” or that certain happenings are just “teenage pranks”. This is racism. This was not a typical teenage fight between boys. This teen is the victim of racism and the school only reinforced the situation by disciplining the victim and letting the white teen off the hook completely. We need to do better.

Lynn Baker: No surprise. With the election of Trump White Extremism is now an acceptable practice especially in states like Utah where Trumpism is the disease.

DawnMarie Woolsey-Taylor (in response to Lynn Baker): Wow! This behavior has been going on way before this last election! Have you not watched the news for the past 9 years? Hate in this country didn't start with Trump, he just revealed it!

Jo Nelson: Racism has been going on since I started school at age 6 in Washington Terrace, Utah. I am now 80. It goes on and has been going on for as long as I have been alive, believe it!

Rosalie Dixon: The Utah culture of racism. Many people in Utah are raised differently than the norm.

Stef N. Felts: This is absolutely ridiculous that all of the punishment is coming down on this kid. If the other kid is offered to press charges, Teague better be as well. I hope the ACLU has been contacted by the family.

Patrice Jolly: Well this ain't nothing new in Utah! Happened to me from elementary to junior high and even my senior year in high school although I was the 3.8 Cumulative GPA, Captain of the cheer squad, editor in chief of yearbook and Student Body Officer (I wrote to show that I was no trouble maker) that I was suspended every time for defending myself every single time. Took it all the way to the school board in high school. Still no repercussion for the initiators. #StillBackInUtah

Katie Stark Sales: Teague had every right to stand up for himself and he is so brave for doing so. The Clearfield student should have substantial consequences, spitting, racial slurs, not even his school??.... the resource officer was way off the mark, on how he handled this & the schools lack of urgency is disappointing. I am grateful for BLM for stepping in, and trying to help raise awareness- thank you Teague for being brave enough to stand up for yourself and come forward! Be the change!

Juana H. Mares-Golmon: Sucks, when my daughter was a senior in Layton another student yelled at her and her friend when they were exiting the parking "That's why Trump is building the wall!" She a U.S. citizen and her dad is a retired vet but just because she is Latina she was profiled by this ignorant kid..

Darrell Battles: Please be careful of generalizing a whole state for the experiences of a few. Too soon, it makes the accuser guilty of their accusation.

Michael McNaughton: If this is accurate than the person that spit on him and called him a racial slur should be expelled. It is time that people be held accountable for their actions. Maybe this kid gets a couple day suspension for reacting the way he did even though it is understandable but he also has to know actions have consequences.

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