After a video emerged of Selinsgrove Area High School students displaying "overt racism," an alumni petition called on the district to implement anti-racist policies for the 2020-2021 school year.
"The overt racism on display in that video is just one of the many ways racism shows up here," the petition states.
The video is of boys doing what they call the 'George Floyd Challenge,' mocking the arrest of George Floyd and nominating other kids to do the same. This particular video shows one student holding another's head underwater in a pool while giving the thumbs-up sign.
"You're under arrest," and "Stop resisting," he says.
The other teen resurfaces and shouts, "I can't breathe."
The video is a symptom of a larger, historical problem to adequately address diversity and inclusion in the district, according to the petition.
"The Selinsgrove Area School District fails as an institution to ensure our Black community feels safe, welcomed, and heard," the petition reads.
Superintendent Chad L. Cohrs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In Six Demands from the SASD Community in Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, the school district is urged to disarm school police and ban the use of chokeholds.
"At minimum, starting immediately, these officers should no longer be allowed to carry firearms on district property and they should be banned from using chokeholds," the petition states.
The district is asked to reinvest $30,000 in taxpayer money from school police into under-resourced programs like student mental health and career readiness.
The petition criticizes the school district for using culturally insensitive curriculum during its fifth grade camp program.
"Of particular concern are the experiences of alumni of color who attended “5th grade camp” during the decade(s) in which the Confederacy was normalized by dividing students into the Union and Confederacy, having a sports tournament between the two, and allowing Confederate merchandise to be purchased, worn, and displayed by fellow students," the petition states.
Fifth graders should not be allowed to purchase or display Confederate symbols while at the school camp, the petitioners said.
Curriculum should be reformed school-wide to include "a more nuanced and accurate history curriculum...that includes analysis of colonization and racism," according to the petition.
Power and privilege training for all staff and students should be mandatory and repeated annually, the petition says.
The petitioners were concerned with equality in discipline because "studies show students of color, especially Black students, are more likely to be disciplined, despite not being more likely to break school policy."
"Publicly release data showing what percentage of students receiving disciplinary action are students of color," the petitioners demanded of the district.
The petitioners asked the district to release a public statement in response by the end of July.