Education

FBI investigating photo faked to look like a racist post from Rio Americano High website

A message from Principal Brian Ginter on the Rio Americano High School website Thursday says that the school found no evidence that a racist post circulating on social media – not shown here – ever appeared on the site.
A message from Principal Brian Ginter on the Rio Americano High School website Thursday says that the school found no evidence that a racist post circulating on social media – not shown here – ever appeared on the site. Rio Americano High School

A doctored screenshot of a Sacramento-area high school website created a buzz on social media Thursday, and prompted an investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.

The image circulating on Facebook and Snapchat of what appeared to be a screenshot of Rio Americano High School’s website was titled, “District-wide High School No Black people policy,” with additional racist slurs in the message.

But the photo is fake, according to San Juan Unified School District officials, and was never on Rio Americano High School’s website.

“After our initial review, we have found no evidence that a website with this message ever existed on the Rio Americano High School website,” said district community relations director Trent Allen.

But the message, while false, had already spread throughout social media channels Wednesday night before authorities learned of it Thursday morning, and was incredibly hurtful, district officials said.

“The message does not represent Rio Americano High School, its staff, students or community,” said Allen. “Already, the student body is coming together add messages of inclusion and acceptance to a planned rally.”

Both the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI are investigating the incident to determine who doctored the image to make it look like it was from the Rio Americano High School website, according to district officials. The Sheriff’s Office said it shared the information with the FBI.

“It is not acceptable to make any individual feel intimidated, harassed or otherwise discriminated against,” said Rio Americano Principal Brian T. Ginter.

Ginter said that anyone with information about the photo can anonymously reach out to the school district through the website’s Tell Someone form at www.sanjuan.edu/tellsomeone.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.
  Comments