Video of teens shouting racial slurs roils Ventura County school district

A viral social media video of teenagers shouting racial slurs and derogatory comments about black people has shocked Ventura County residents and prompted local educators to address the matter.

The video, shows at least four teenagers in a car, some of whom are rapping and shouting, was posted to Twitter on Monday with the hashtag #StopRacism.

At one point, someone in the car says “… black people, they’re … [N-word].” The teens then shout the N-word repeatedly.

The Conejo Valley Unified School District has confirmed that two of the teens in the video are students. The district has declined to say which schools the students attend or whether any disciplinary action had been taken against them.

“Because these are minors, we can’t go into details about what disciplinary action, if any, was taken,” district spokeswoman Heather Kawai said. “It’s not that there’s nothing that we can do or nothing that was done, it’s just that we can’t confirm that.”

She pointed out that the students were not on school property and school was not in session. The students in the video appear to be in a car driving after dark.

In a statement released earlier in the week, the district said, “The language and opinions expressed in the rap song that recently surfaced in a video online are not representative of the District, the Governing Board, or District staff. It is unfortunate that the song and video were made and posted on social media.”

The statement also said the district was committed to providing “a discrimination-free, harassment-free, bullying-free educational environment.”

Of the district’s nearly 19,000 students, 56% are white, 26.4% are Latino, 9.8% are Asian and 1.4% are black, according to the California Department of Education.

The Twitter user who posted the video declined a request for comment Friday. The sequence appears to be a videotape of a video played on a cellphone.

The teenagers in the video appear to be listening to Drake’s 2015 track “Legend,” and the song’s lyrics include the N-word. But the words the teens are shouting are nowhere in the original track.

With classes scheduled to resume Aug. 23, some people say the district needs to do more to fight racism.

The mother of a black Westlake High School student said she has complained to school administrators in the past about students using the N-word to and around her child, but she says they have failed to address the issue. The mother asked not to be named because she said she feared her child would be harassed if she spoke publicly.

Mia Taylor, a 17-year-old who recently transferred out of Westlake High to attend a more diverse school, said she had similar experiences at Westlake.

Students casually “say a lot of racial slurs, a lot of discriminatory things,” said Taylor, who is biracial. “They think it’s funny. It’s not funny.”

Thousand Oaks High School Principal Lou Lichtl did not return requests for comment Friday morning, but seemed to confirm on Twitter that one of the teens is a student at his school.

“We certainly do not condone this type of offensive behavior and it has been addressed,” he tweeted Tuesday, in response to Twitter users demanding action. “We will continue to monitor and address as needed.”

In a follow-up tweet, Lichtl wrote, “You cannot judge an entire community based on one act.”

Westlake High Principal Jason Branham told the Ventura County Star that the school is investigating whether there was student involvement in the video. Branham did not return requests for interviews.

Thousand Oaks High parent Jan Cooper told CBS that she thinks the repercussions should be severe.

“I think they should be expelled,” Cooper said. “As a joke, do you find that funny? I don’t find that funny. I find it very racist, and I find it very offensive.”

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.

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