'It has affected our district at all levels': Officials reviewing racist prom proposal

  • District 301 Superintendent Todd Stirn says a racist invitation to Burlington Central High School's prom does "not reflect Central 301's values or our standards of appropriate and acceptable student conduct."

      District 301 Superintendent Todd Stirn says a racist invitation to Burlington Central High School's prom does "not reflect Central 301's values or our standards of appropriate and acceptable student conduct." Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2020

 
 
Updated 4/20/2022 1:57 PM

A "highly inappropriate" prom proposal involving students at Central High School in Burlington contained "racist remarks" and is under review by officials, District 301 Superintendent Todd Stirn said.

The proposal, which surfaced over the weekend on social media, included one student asking another to the school's prom this Friday.

 

"Over the weekend, Central High School and Central Community Unit School District 301 administration were made aware of a highly inappropriate social media post involving students from Central High School," according to Stirn's statement posted on the high school's website, chs.central301.net. "The derogatory, racist remarks in the post do not reflect Central 301's values or our standards of appropriate and acceptable student conduct."

In an interview with the Kane County Chronicle on Tuesday, Stirn said he first was made aware of the prom proposal on Sunday when he was contacted by a community member. The superintendent said he could not discuss student discipline publicly, but said officials were discussing ways to address consistent and purposeful cultural differences as to what is acceptable in the entire student body.

"It has affected our district at all levels, the community, the students and our staff," Stirn said. "We would all agree this is an inexcusable situation. We do not condone the action of these individuals. ... We just want everyone to feel valued in our district. And as I mentioned in the news yesterday, it just does not reflect the values of our district and what we support and what we strive to be."

In the aftermath, Central Principal Chris Testone met with a group of students on Monday and will continue to meet with them, Stirn said.

"We are hearing our students, their voice, their wants and concerns and we will work with student clubs to organize and support our diverse populations within our district," Stirn said. "We are going to continue to expand those conversations and work with our various clubs to develop activities and events that coincide and support our diverse population."

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Michael Childress, president of the DuPage County NAACP, which also includes Kane, Kendall and Will counties, said he wondered how the student came to the prom proposal.

"What was in his mind to make him think this was OK?" Childress said.

Childress said the student should be held accountable.

"I don't want to see anybody's life ruined over something stupid you did in high school," Childress said. "I get it. But there has to be some sort of accountability."

Childress said he hoped the student would learn from the incident.

In its statement, District 301 defended itself as "a very diverse district, and we celebrate and value our diversity.

"Actions that go against our values of inclusion and respect have no place in our schools or our school-sponsored activities. We appreciate all who brought this incident to our attention. Any members of the school community with concerns about this matter should contact Central High School administration," according to the post. "Students may also reach out to school social workers."

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