Westlake Girls High School has been accused of siding with a student who caused outrage with a blackface selfie on social media.
The student sent a selfie via Snapchat showing her face with black paint and the caption "wassup my n****".
The selfie was reportedly sent to a friend during lockdown and has since been shared widely across social media platforms, with users calling on the school to take a stand against racism.
The school told the Herald it is "investigating the situation". However, a student who asked to remain anonymous says the school "has not responded appropriately".
"Myself and a bunch of peers find it offensive and disgusting," the student told the Herald.
"It feels like the school is more disappointed in those of us who find the blackface picture offensive than the girl who actually painted her face black," she said.
"It's like their response is primarly focused on making sure the school maintains a 'good' reputation rather than educating students on the effects of racism and the wellbeing of the students who are affected by it."
The student says the school has "victimised the girl who painted her face black and tried to make us feel sorry for her because she apparently didn't know any better". "It stinks of white privilege," she added.
The student says the school has advised students "not to speak about it". "I think the school should talk to us about it and reiterate that racism, no matter how casual, is not okay," she added.
Numerous students who have condemned the selfie online have also added calls for people not to bully the girl in the selfie but all agree in their posts that "casual racism" needs to be pointed out, or risks being normalised.
Another Westlake Girls pupil told the Herald she is "glad they are now taking action" and described the school's response as "a step in the right direction".
The school sent an email to students this afternoon to let them know the matter is under investigation.
"I do wish they had dealt with this situation when my friends and I had initially informed the teachers," the pupil added, explaining it was brought to the teachers' attention on May 26.
"However, this has been an ongoing issue among the students for a while now, but it was never brought up to the teachers."
"Some teachers have approached us and offered us support if we needed it," she added.
Screenshots of the selfie continue to multiply on social media, including on Facebook where users are tagging the school's page and urging it to "formally address" the incident.
A Facebook user who also asked not to be named spoke to the Herald about her shock upon seeing the post on the social network.
"It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine," she said. "As a teacher myself, at a predominately Pacific Island school, it was very upsetting to see circulating online.
"I feel it's my duty to teach my students how to be decent human beings as well as parents/families to do their part. I also believe racism is learned. You are not born racist so this behaviour is learned from somewhere."
The Facebook user, who shared the post, has joined the call to the school to act.
"The school needs to take action against the student. I'm not sure what that might look like but I feel it's just as bad to just ignore this situation and not act on it. Especially with what is currently happening around the world, for example the recent death of George Floyd," she added.
African American George Floyd was unarmed when he was killed by police officers in the United States this week.
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Westlake Girls High School has not publicly addressed the incident. Contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson confirmed the school is aware of the post and is "investigating".
"We have high expectations of the conduct of our students here and we are investigating the situation," the spokesperson said.