Cardinal Newman student expelled after making racially charged video

Cardinal Newman School, file photo.

COLUMBIA—Officials at Cardinal Newman School expelled a student on May 31, reporting that the youth appeared in a video demeaning to African Americans.

In a letter to school families, Principal Rob Loia said the expulsion happened a few hours after he was notified about the video.

“Late this morning, I received a copy of a video that contained a Cardinal Newman student participating in a racially charged conversation,” he wrote. “While not threatening violence, it was demeaning to the African American community and offensive to all of us. The student’s parents were immediately contacted and the student expelled.”

No details about the video, the student or the content were disclosed. “This former student’s action was not representative of our Catholic community and is not acceptable,” Loia said. “We have no tolerance for any words or actions that are racist in nature, and we will continue to enforce this.”

Loia said the video was especially disheartening in light of “the tragic murder of George Floyd and the terrible effects of systemic racism [that] have caused great pain, anger, and frustration in our nation, the city of Columbia, and, especially, in our African American community. We are outraged by the injustice.”

School administrators have consulted with key members of its Diversity Task Force. The group plans to meet this week to discuss how the school can continue to stand in solidarity with members of the African American community and work to find reconciliation and promote justice.

Cardinal Newman was caught up in controversy in August 2019 when parents learned of racist and threatening videos made by a 16-year-old student that were shared via text message in mid-July. That student was subsequently expelled. 

In that incident, a parent saw the videos and reported them to school officials on July 13. On July 17, another parent found a video in which the same youth threatened to “shoot up” the school. The teen, who remains unidentified because he is a minor, was arrested by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department on July 17 and charged with making student threats. 

A second student was later expelled in relation to the videos and threats made against the school. 

To deal with that incidient, Cardinal Newman officials held a town meeting with parents. They also held  an assembly for students which included group discussions and the opportunity to speak to crisis counselors present on campus. 

The school took other steps with safety and diversity initiatives, the formation of the Diversity Task Force that focuses on parental involvement, curriculum, and recruitment and hiring practices.

Loia said he echoed the sentiments of a statement released by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on May 31 regarding riots that have flared in cities across the United States and other parts of the world following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minnesota police.

The principal called for prayers for George Floyd and his family, and for those who are victims of racism, those who are suffering because of the riots — and  for peace, justice and respect for all life.