GILBERT, AZ — Back in 2018, the group called "MAGA (Make America Great Again) Club" at Highland High School formed as an official school club. At the time of taking the official club photo for the yearbook, another picture, unpublished, was also taken. The picture surfaced on social media, causing a lot of concern.
"That picture was never ever in the yearbook, but it was students taking pictures of students. I don't think the administration was aware of it until it started going around on Twitter, and it was dealt with appropriately," says Jill Humpherys, a Gilbert Public Schools board member with knowledge on the incident from a few years ago.
A short time later, a video depicting two girls saying the "N" word also surfaced. The students, according to Humphreys, were also disciplined.
Both of these "unofficial" records have surfaced on social media again in recent days.
"There is a lot of misinformation. Whenever referring to social media, I would say to ask yourself, 'Is it true? Two, is it necessary? Three, is it kind?" adds Humpherys.
According to students and parents who have recently reached out to ABC15, the racial divide and tensions remain. One student e-mailed us saying, "I'm not comfortable showing my face for fear of retaliation from the administration."
To those who have reached out to ABC15 in hopes of shedding light on the photo, video and the sentiments from those currently attending, Humpherys has this to say:
"While this has become a huge issue recently because of current happenings, it's something that our public schools have been working on all the time."
Keisha McKinnor, a spokeswoman with the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona, says these two incidents are saying a lot about the culture allowed to continue at the school.
"You can't treat that as an isolated incident because there is a pattern. It is part of the culture. You have to address the culture of the school," says McKinnor.
In a prepared statement, Gilbert Public Schools made it clear that these were issues that were from previous years and that they have since not allowed props in photos and do not allow hand gestures of any type.