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Virginia School District Investigating ‘Abhorrent’ George Floyd Image Posted by Student

A Virginia school district said it was investigating an image posted on social media by a high school football player that repurposed a photo of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck to celebrate his team’s recent victory.

The doctored image, which the student posted after his team won a game on Friday, shows the Cave Spring High School logo superimposed onto Mr. Chauvin’s face. The logo of the losing team, Hidden Valley High School, was edited onto Mr. Floyd’s face.

In addition to the football player, a “handful of other” students reposted the image on social media, according to Ken Nicely, the superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools. The district became aware of the image on Saturday evening, after multiple parents and other members of the community reported it to the high school, he said.

“At no point was there any question that this was abhorrent,” said Chuck Lionberger, a spokesman for the district. He added that there were other photos posted celebrating the victory that were “not related to George Floyd, but equally as deplorable.”

School administrators have spoken with the students, who have “all been very remorseful,” Dr. Nicely said. Even though “students are still developing” and making mistakes, he added, “that does not mean there are not consequences.”

The district and the school were working to understand why the students posted the photo and why they didn’t understand that “this was a bad idea,” Mr. Lionberger said.

Last summer, after Mr. Floyd was killed, touching off nationwide demonstrations against racism and police violence, the district developed an “equity planning and leadership team,” Dr. Nicely said, in recognition of the fact that “people of diverse backgrounds have their own experiences and needs and perspectives.”

Cave Spring High School, in Roanoke, Va., some 60 miles southwest of Lynchburg, is mostly white, he added. According to the Virginia Department of Education, nearly 80 percent of the student body is white, while 5.8 percent of the school’s students are Black.

The game on Friday was Cave Spring’s first win against Hidden Valley in a decade, Dr. Nicely said. Cave Spring was set to play another game this season, but the school canceled the game after the episode in light of the “seriousness of the situation,” he added.

“What we try to do as schools is educate,” Dr. Nicely said. Sometimes, students “don’t pass the test,” he said, adding that the district’s schools draw from history and current events in their lessons.

Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, is standing trial in Minnesota for murder. Mr. Floyd, who was Black, died last May after Mr. Chauvin, who is white, pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes as he screamed for help.

The image posted in Virginia last weekend was not the first to make light of the killing. In February, a valentine-like image of Mr. Floyd with the words “You take my breath away” circulated through the Los Angeles Police Department, prompting an internal investigation.

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