Video of Isle of Wight Academy student in blackface circulates on social media

Posted at 3:40 PM, Mar 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 18:11:16-04

Isle of Wight Co., Va. - A video circulating on social media showed a student from Isle Of Wight Academy in apparent blackface. The controversial video is now viral. The video was created for a school project on court cases and the student in blackface was portraying an African American woman who was involved in the case.

The headmaster of the private school, Benjamin Vaughan, spoke with NewsChannel 3's Erica Greenway. He said that the video was made for a senior government class and was presented in class on Feb. 29.

According to Vaughan, all three students involved in making the video were disciplined right after school staff saw the video. He said, "We were very concerned with how the reenactment occurred and the way they portrayed some of the characters involved."

Vaughan sent NewsChannel 3 the following statement on behalf of the school:

The project was to create a video explaining one of the landmark cases that has been before the Supreme Court. This particular group chose Mapp v. Ohio, a case that dealt with evidence being admissible in court cases. One of the students portrayed herself as an African American woman, one of the principal characters in the case.

Isle of Wight Academy in no way condones the actions of the students involved in the making of the video. Disciplinary action, in line with school policy, has been taken with the students involved in the making of this video. At no time have any students been threatened with suspension or expulsion for expressing concerns regarding this video.

Isle of Wight Academy is a school that welcomes people of all races into its family.

"I think the students did it with all innocence they didn't realize the seriousness of the way they portrayed the characters and we have tried to get across to them that it was wrong and they need to accept the punishment for it, learn from it, make amends for it and then not let it happen again," Vaughan said.

When reached Tuesday afternoon, the girl seen in the video declined to comment. NewsChannel 3 has chosen to not identify any of those who participated in the video.

According to Vaughan, the teacher has been assigning this project for at least 10 years and they have never had an issue. He also said the school , "wants to assure all of our students that we have a very welcoming environment and we want them to feel like all students are part of our school family."

The school is working on having sensitivity training presented to students.