LAFAYETTE, La. – Racial slurs were found in books and notebooks that black public school students left in a bus during a career fair, and police were investigating whether they were written by white students who rode the same bus from a mostly white Catholic school.
The public school's principal filed a police report after students from Northside High School found the N-word and comments such as "monkey," "get off of welfare" and "go back to Africa" in their books, said Sgt. Mark Francis, spokesman for Lafayette police.
He said students took the Lafayette Parish school bus to the career fair at the Cajundome arena about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Some left books and notepads on the bus, knowing they would be returning to school on it.
The bus then brought students to the Cajundome from St. Thomas More High School.
Students reported the comments to Northside High Principal Carlton Handy and to the school resource officer, a Lafayette police officer. A formal police report was filed, and whoever wrote the slurs in the books face a charge of simple criminal damage to property, Francis said.
"As an African-American male and as an African-American police officer, it's disheartening to know people would resort to this type of language," he said.
STM Principal Ray Simon said he could not be certain if STM students were responsible for the racial slurs.
"We don't know for sure if it was someone from STM who did this," he said, "but we're investigating it fully. This is an unacceptable matter."
He said a majority of the STM students on the bus Wednesday are white, along with their chaperone, Johnson.
Out of 1,065 students at the school, about 35 to 40 are black, Simon said.
"Anyone guilty of this will be severely punished," he said.