Faculty adviser added ‘BLACK GUY’ to yearbook caption, school says

NASHVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A faculty adviser for the yearbook at Brown County High School has been excused from his role as adviser after administrators say he was responsible for identifying a student as “BLACK GUY” in the 2020 high school yearbook.

“Our investigation did not identify any students (currently enrolled or graduated) who were involved in the creation of the offensive content,” according to a joint letter sent to News 8 Friday from Dr. Laura Hammack, superintendent of Brown County Schools, and Matthew Stark, principal of Brown County High School. “We believe the content was created by the faculty advisor for the yearbook.”

The faculty adviser will no longer serve as an adviser for the yearbook and was also suspended for two weeks without pay.

School officials say the family of the student and the former faculty adviser of the yearbook “have committed to a restorative conference where the harm that was caused is acknowledged, the individual causing the harm is held accountable, and an honest discussion about the harm caused by this inexcusable act is conducted.”

Hammack earlier in the week described the incident as “egregious” and “truly incomprehensible” in a Facebook Live video but repeatedly characterized it as an “error” rather than an act of racism.

School administrators say they are having meaningful conversations with students, families and community members to ensure this type of incident never happens again.

“We remain deeply grateful for the ongoing engagement of the student and family involved in being a collaborative partner in rejecting discrimination of all types and against anyone. We will not waver in our commitment to treating all our students with the respect and dignity they deserve,” the letter continued. “We absolutely and unreservedly reject the use of any pejorative term to describe anyone—especially those who are a member of the Brown County Schools family.

Hammack and Stark ask the community to fight against discrimination as it heals from the “disheartening incident.”