QUINCY — Hundreds of Quincy High School students walked out of classes Friday, shortly before school administrators met virtually with parents in the wake of a racist video created by a student led to a fight with another student this week.
The students chanted “no justice, no peace” as they walked from the school to the police station, City Hall, and then to the city’s other high school, North Quincy High School, where they circled the building for some time before the peaceful protest wound down.
The walkout came two days after many QHS students received a 25 second cellphone video where a white high school student uses a racial epithet while expressing hatred of Black people. The video appeared to have been circulated by someone who added the words, “don’t let me catch you out on the streets” along with a first name.
At dismissal on Wednesday, a student confronted the creator of the video and a physical altercation ensued with the confronting student punching the creator, a video of the fight circulating among the school community shows. Adults broke up the fight.
Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Kevin W. Mulvey said a disciplinary hearing for the student who made the video had been scheduled for Friday but was postponed until next week.
School was closed Thursday for Veterans Day; the first day back to classes was Friday.
Zybria Barber, a senior who helped organize the walkout, said students are frustrated by seeing classmates use racist, anti-LGBTQ, and sexually inappropriate language with seeming impunity.
“We felt like we needed to do this because there is an extreme lack of accountability and consequences in the basic culture of Quincy High School,” she said. “A lot of ignorant kids can get away with saying any offensive words and terms. They can just say whatever they want to say, and they’ll just simply get away with it. If anything, they’ll get a slap on the wrist.”
When students report the behavior, teachers and administrators “treat it like it’s an actual problem,” but those responsible rarely face serious consequences, and sometimes the student who made the report is punished, Barber said.
“They usually get detention,” she said. “Either that, or we just aren’t listened to.”
Barber said she wants “to see proper punishment towards those who just say whatever they want to say and are so used to getting away with it.” Many students feel school administrators aren’t taking their concerns seriously enough, she said.
“We just want to be heard,” she said.
Principal Lawrence Taglieri and Mulvey hosted a virtual meeting with parents at 3 p.m. Friday, prior to an in-person forum slated for 5 p.m. Monday at Quincy High.
“I want to begin today by first thanking the students and staff of Quincy High School for protesting peacefully,” Mulvey said during the Friday Zoom session. “Our students have legitimate concerns with regard to racism and climate and culture at Quincy High School. We want to acknowledge that, and we want to thank them for expressing that today and for doing it peacefully.”
Mulvey thanked school staff for maintaining their “professionalism” during the demonstration.
“We had two very significantly, racistly (sic) charged issues that has happened in the Quincy Public Schools, over the last week and a half to two weeks,” Mulvey said. “The first incident involved a student who had made ... a rap audio, a rap song that was replete with racist commentary, as well as derogatory and sexist commentary.”
There was more bad news this week, he continued.
“And then this past Tuesday, we were made aware of a fight up at Quincy High School,” Mulvey said. “And upon investigation, the fight was as the result of a video that was created by a student back in seventh grade, a year and a half two years ago, that was the most disturbing video I have ever seen.”
Mulvey said the video, which the Globe viewed and which shows an adolescent launching into a racist tirade punctured with repeated use of the n-word, was “replete with racism and other derogatory commentary that was so disturbing, words can’t describe.”
Mulvey said school officials have reached out to nonprofits with expertise in navigating equity issues to help school staffers work through the recent traumatic events with students.
“The goal here is to work collaboratively,” Mulvey said. “Collaboratively together with all of our stakeholders, our parents, our students, our staff, our administrators, our clinician partners ... in a collective goal of doing our very best for our community, our students, our families, in addressing racism and climate and culture within our buildings” and “community in general.”
Mulvey said he looked forward “to tonight’s parent forum, I look forward to Monday’s parent forum. But I want everyone to know this is just the beginning. We are committed to working together to move forward and make positive change as quickly as possible.”
Mulvey had also addressed the racist video in a note to parents last week.
“The [racist] video was created outside of school over a year ago but was recently shared between students on social media,’' Mulvey wrote to parents this week.
“We are writing to inform you that there was a physical altercation between two Quincy High School students at the end of the school day [Tuesday] that was the result of a video created by one of the students that contained racist hate speech,” he wrote.
He wrote that the incident was witnessed by students and staff and reflected a lack of “maturity” among students.
The “altercation is the result of students’ ability to communicate impulsively and without the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions. The altercation was witnessed by many students and staff and is extremely disturbing to the entire school community.”
He added, “while identifying the issues of racism and hate speech are easily done, the more difficult work is to address the root causes of these conflicts and support the students and staff affected. There are clearly issues with culture and climate that require collaboration with outside resources and strategic planning in order to move forward with reinforcing our schools as safe and supportive environments.”
Last Friday, the superintendent wrote about “alarming incidents” between North Quincy and Quincy High School students “containing sexual harassment and hate speech that was shared on social media under the guise of athletic rivalry. This misconduct is extremely disturbing to the targeted adults and students and the entire Quincy Public Schools community.”
Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this report.