Video prompts suspensions, walkout
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Students at the high school staged a brief walkout Tuesday to protest the suspension of students reportedly involved in the making of a rap-themed video at the high school that was posted on social media.
The school administration issued a statement Monday saying they are “aware of a video posted on multiple social media sites that depicted EHT High School and some students.” It said the video had since been taken down but that they had notified local law enforcement and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
The video is still on YouTube, as is a second version set to the Donna Summer song “Last Dance” rather than the rap song.
The district statement says the district will continue to monitor the situation and conduct its own investigation. “The District is committed to continuing to work in the best interest of our children and to provide an excellent education in a healthy and safe environment,” the statement said.
High school Principal Terry Charlton wrote in an email that all media questions were being handled by the district’s central office. No one from the superintendent’s office responded to a request for comment Tuesday.
The video shows students fake-fighting, gambling and dancing in the school hallways with scenes of security all set to rap music that includes profanity.
Students took to social media to respond to the reported suspensions. The hashtag #freetonybeatz refers to the student who made the video.
A change.org petition started by student Aidin Hendriks titled “EHTHS harshly suspended students over creative video,” had 734 supporters Tuesday night. Most said the video was just a fun, creative project not intended to criticize the school and that the punishment was over-reacting and too severe.
The suspensions reportedly included not being able to attend prom or graduation.
Patricia Hendriks, Aidin’s mother, said she was contacting the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union to see if they might get involved.
“These are seniors applying to college,” she said by phone. “This will affect them.”
The school has reportedly scheduled a meeting Thursday with students to discuss the incident.