Epithet spray-painted on school's sidewalk

Same racial slur was found in yearbook at Perry Hall

June 04, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

With Perry Hall High School officials scrambling to recall yearbooks containing a racial epithet, the custodians who were first to arrive at school yesterday discovered the same epithet spray-painted on the school sidewalk.

The epithet "is just a word," read the letters in red spray paint near the west entrance of the school, a police report said. The words were accompanied by a symbol representing anarchy and white supremacy, the report said.

Baltimore County police are investigating the incident as a racially motivated crime, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a Police Department spokesman.

Custodians called police shortly before 5 a.m., said school system spokesman Charles A. Herndon. After a police report was taken, the custodians painted over the graffiti so that students wouldn't see it on their way in at 7:30 a.m.

By 8:30 a.m., school district employees had sandblasted off the paint and graffiti, Herndon said.

About half of the 450 yearbooks that were distributed to seniors last week had been returned by the end of school yesterday. Herndon said some students don't want to return their books but that he expects most of the remainder of the yearbooks to be turned in at graduation rehearsal today.

Students who do not return their yearbooks might not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.

The books will be returned to the students within a week, after the publisher replaces the page containing the slur, Herndon said.

On Tuesday, as the school was distributing the yearbooks to underclassmen, the slur printed next to the name of a biracial student was discovered, officials said.

Officials have characterized the incident as a prank. The student deemed responsible faces punishment as severe as expulsion, Herndon said.

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