Controversy & hurt feelings surround Hayti black history program

HAYTI, MO (KFVS) - Controversy is brewing in Hayti, over the high school's black history program.  It all started Friday when a number of white students left before the program began.

The school district says the rumors floating around about students "walking out" on the program are not true, while students say they're just let down by their classmates.

"It offends me," says junior Chelcia Moore. "It touches my heart in a deep way. On this one day you decide to leave and it just doesn't feel right to me at all."

Moore and her classmates helped put the program together as a way to honor black leaders in history and to appreciate their progress

"Some people said it was just a waste of time," Moore commented.

There wasn't much talk about it on Friday, but some weekend conversations got people buzzing.

The big controversy started with the website Topix.  A post on the site says the school gave the students the choice to stay and watch the program, or leave.   The superintendent says that simply isn't true.

"We had some parents call who wanted their kids to be released from school and we followed the policy and let those kids leave," said Hayti Schools Superintendent Jeff Tucker.

He says the policy is simple: Any student can leave school as long as it's okay with his or her parents.

"If they call into the office, they can miss school with a parent's permission," Tucker said.

He says all nineteen students who left school before the program on Friday had permission.   He went on to say he thinks most of the kids who left were just looking for a way to get out of class, not because they didn't want to attend a black function.

According to Tucker, the school doesn't have a racial problem.

"The kids get along well," he said. "We don't have any turmoil that I know of."

But Moore says she'll keep her head high and hopes her white classmates will be more caring in the future.

"I understand it's not important to ya'll, but to us, the black students, it means a lot to us," Moore said.  "It just hurts us deeply, it really does."

The district has a policy that allows students to miss six days, excused or unexcused, with no penalty.  So unless any of the students who left early Friday missed more than six days, they won't receive any punishment.

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