Racist 'promposal' posted on Instagram investigated at Westchester County school

PLEASANTVILLE, New York (WABC) -- School officials in Pleasantville are investigating an "inappropriate and unacceptable" promposal by a high school senior posted on social media.

In recent years, teens have increasingly used creative videos and pictures to ask each other to prom. Many such promposals have gone viral on social media, but there has been controversy as well.

Last week, a student in Ohio received death threats after he was pictured holding a sign that read, "If I was black, I'd be picking cotton. But I'm white, so I'm picking u for prom."

The promposal in Pleasantville, which had been posted on Instagram, is had similar wording.

Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter said in a statement that the district "rejects the message" and "is treating this issue with the utmost seriousness."

Students expressed their surprise.

"We're normally a pretty open and accepting community," said one senior, who didn't want to be identified. "I was a little shocked that someone would say something like that, especially on something as simple as a prom poster. I'm honestly at a loss for words, because I don't understand how anyone could ever do something like that."

Residents are also appalled.

"I've lived here for 33 years and I am shocked that there's this racist overtone. I just don't know what to say," Linda Shenkman said.

School officials have not said what, if any, disciplinary action has been taken.
"The district is committed to promoting diversity and equality in our schools," Fox-Alter said. "We work with our students daily to increase cultural awareness, acceptance, and to provide anti-bias education, and will use this incident as an opportunity to learn and bolster our efforts."

Pleasantville High School released a statement about the incident:

As shared by Pleasantville High School Principal, Joe Palumbo, in a letter to the HS community on May 8, school officials have been made aware of an inappropriate and unacceptable "Promposal" that took place in the our community. An investigation was immediately undertaken.

The Pleasantville Union Free School District rejects the message that was included in the "Promposal" and is treating this issue with the utmost seriousness. The district is committed to promoting diversity and equality in our schools. We work with our students daily to increase cultural awareness, acceptance, and to provide anti-bias education and will use this incident as an opportunity to learn and bolster our efforts.

We are following the guidelines set forth in state education law and in our District Code of Conduct to address the immediate issue, as well as federal privacy guidelines as it pertains to the individuals involved. We have also invited community organizations to partner with us as we work to engage the entire school community in meaningful discussions moving forward. We are currently finalizing those plans.


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