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TV6 Investigates: Moline High student talks suspension after video

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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MOLINE, Illinois (KWQC) - After the controversial “Banana Video” was investigated by the Moline-Coal Valley School District, repercussions were doled out earlier this week.

One student who says he was not directly involved in the making of the video claims he was unfairly punished. TV6 sat down with him and his family to talk about the incident.

“I was sitting in the chair in the back when the video was taking place,” said Christian Slater, a sophomore at Moline High School and former defensive lineman of the football team before he was kicked off and suspended for a week.

According to Christian, the high school believes he is the reason the video went viral last week after he shared it with a friend via text message.

“Christian’s name kept coming up as the person who shared it outside of the private group,” said Rasheda Jamison, Christian’s aunt.

“He told me that it was wrong, and he saved it and sent it on social media,” said Christian.

According to Rasheda, however, the school says Christian is still to blame for the other students’ actions.

“Sharing it to social media is against their policy, which he did not. He shared it with a friend,” said Rasheda, “the boy that created the video is the one that shared it on social media.”

Moline’s student handbook specifically states on page 35 under “Student Behavior,” part E, that, “athletes will not use social media involving other players, teams, coaches or Moline High School in a way that could be detrimental.”

However, Christian says that he did not post the video to social media. He says he first recieved it through a private group Snapchat--a social media platform--and sent it via private test message to the person that posted it.

“I don’t think it was right because I had no part in it when it was taking place,” said Christian, “but I sent it to my friend to show my emotions about it.”

“For him to be disciplined out of everyone, I feel like they needed somebody to put the blame on,” said Rasheda.

“As a young black male, he has every right to feel upset and hurt by that video,” said Angela Slater, Christian’s mom, “he has every right to bring light to what is going on in his high school.”

Angela says that she is worried that this could negatively affect Christian’s future, one that he had hoped would involve professional football.

“I’m very upset, because I feel this is going to go on his permanent record,” said Angela, “we had plans, college. I don’t want recruits to look at that and then he’s kicked off the football team.”

“Why would you suspend him and strip him of something that he loves,” said Rasheda, “rather than acknowledge that he did something to bring it to your attention?”

It’s a punishment that Christian’s family feels is unfair, and needs to be reconsidered.

“I feel like they had to make a statement,” said Angela, “like, ‘hey, we disciplined these people’ but you’re disciplining the wrong person.”

Christian goes back to school on Monday, and his family says that they plan on appealing the decision.

“I basically want to tell them how I’m feeling about it, and hopefully they change their minds,” said Christian.

TV6 reached out to the Moline School District’s Administration, and they responded in full:

“Last weekend Moline-Coal Valley students, staff, families, and the greater community were disgusted and disheartened to learn of the events that took place in the high school football locker room on Friday evening. For many, the incident caused a range of emotions including outrage, disappointment, and sadness. The student behavior depicted in the video is intolerable and unacceptable and does not represent the core values of the Moline - Coal Valley School District.

The District wishes to express gratitude for the swift action taken immediately by the Moline High School staff and the Moline Police Department. At this time, the police investigation is now complete. The case was reviewed by the State’s Attorney on Sunday and was subsequently referred to Juvenile Court Services. The high school student discipline process is also now complete for the student offenders identified in the police and school-based investigations. Those identified also received additional sanctions from the MHS Athletic Department for violation of Athletic Code of Conduct policies. The District is now in the final phase of the investigation focused on staff policy and procedural violations. Please be reminded that the students identified in the police and school-based investigations are minors and the details of student discipline are required by law to be kept private (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA). While outcry over the incident understandably calls for answers, few details of the student investigation can be publicly released. This must not be mistaken for a lack of action.

While it is understood that the context of the student behavior plays a vital role, it clearly highlights a greater calling from all of us, adults and students alike, to ensure we as a district and a community are doing all we can to coach and guide our youth in a way that encourages respectful and accepting treatment of all, in and out of the classroom, on and off the field, and inside and outside of our schools. As stewards of their educational development, it is our collective responsibility to rally and ensure all students feel safe and a true sense of belonging not just in the coming days, but always.

Moving forward, the District is focusing its efforts on its people, policies, and our greater purpose. Ensuring that extra supports are in place to meet all students’ needs is our primary focus. The high school staff put forth a comprehensive and thoughtful pathway for students this week to listen, talk, ask questions, express their emotions about racism, and share their experiences with discrimination, hate, or bias. Counseling services were made available for groups of students and individuals needing extra support. This dedication of time for students to use their voice in conversation with peers and staff marks the first steps on a healing path forward. Additionally, staff professional development on equity and cultural competence has been ongoing for over a year. The District is also reviewing its policies pertaining to student safety, supervision, and behavioral expectations in school and in extracurricular activities and making adjustments where needed. Lastly, finding our greater purpose by learning and growing from this incident will help us improve our culture and help to unite our community.

What happened on Friday night is not who we are. What happens now is who we are. Together we can and will do better. The District looks forward to sharing plans in the near future for a special Community Conversation where stakeholders can gather and unite through common goals and a greater purpose of listening, learning, and understanding.”

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