CHARLOTTE, NC (Langston Wertz Jr./Charlotte Observer) - A black athlete at Ardrey Kell High School is accusing a white teammate of sending her a photo and a Snapchat message comparing her to a monkey, according to the girl’s mother and four Ardrey Kell administrators.
The white teammate allegedly sent a collage of two photos, one of the black girl, the other of a monkey, and the words, “U look interesting.” A screenshot of the snap was sent to the Observer by the black student’s mother.
Ardrey Kell principal David Switzer and assistant principals Yolanda Burnette, Bridget Ritch and Dale Adair recently confirmed the incident to the Observer.
The mother of the black student told the Observer her daughter allegedly received the message while on a bus on the way to a game in the fall. The mother said she wanted to press charges for cyberstalking but was told by police she couldn’t.
The Observer is not naming the students involved, one of whom is a minor, or their parents to avoid identifying the students. The mother of the girl who allegedly sent the message didn’t return multiple phone calls from the Observer.
Three months earlier, according to the mother and Switzer, the same student allegedly made a similar comment to another black teammate.
In response to a public records request made by the Observer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cited student privacy laws and refused to turn over disciplinary records and emails pertaining to the most recent incident. Switzer told the Observer the girl was disciplined but declined to say what that punishment was.
This is the third racial incident involving Ardrey Kell students and athletes since 2017.
In March 2019, a white basketball player for the Knights used a racial slur in a Snapchat post before Ardrey Kell’s playoff game against predominately black West Charlotte High School. The post was captured and shared across social media platforms, the Observer previously reported. The snap included a message of violence and made a reference to playing “in the hood.”
In 2017, during a football game against Hough, students from Ardrey Kell — which Switzer said is 54 percent white — yelled racial threats at a black middle school student.
“Black boy, you better watch your back! Black boy, you better keep your head on a swivel,” some of the students chanted at a visiting Community House Middle School student. Community House is the middle school that feeds Ardrey Kell.
In that incident, Switzer cleared the Knights’ student section and later said he punished those responsible. Some of those students were drunk or under the influence of drugs at the game and spit on and threw items at Ardrey Kell band members, the Observer previously reported. At the time, he sent a message to students’ families regarding the incident.
“We had a significant number of students who were intoxicated, high on drugs, cussing at other students, spitting and throwing items at our band, chanting inappropriate cuss words, shouting racial comments towards other students, vaping, and physically abusing their peers,” the message said.
After reading a social media post from a West Charlotte supporter about the football incident, Switzer arranged for students from West Charlotte and Ardrey Kell to spend a day together at Ardrey Kell. Switzer called it “West Kell,” with the intent of students from both schools learning from each other.
The Ardrey Kell boys basketball player who used the racial slur on Snapchat missed the game, the last of the season, against West Charlotte. He returned for offseason summer camps and is on the team again this year.