Parents of four students punished for circulating an online petition at their high school to 'bring back slavery' are suing a Missouri school district for 'punishing them too harshly,' according to a federal lawsuit filed on Friday.
Of the four freshmen at Park Hill South, who have not been publicly named, one was expelled while three others were suspended for 180 days, the remainder of the school year.
While officials at the Kansas City-area school district have not yet offered details about the petition, parents of kids who attend Park Hill South just northwest of Kansas City, Missouri were outraged.
It was posted online in September by students at LEAD Innovation Studio, which is part of Park Hill.
The lawsuit claims the racist petition, created by one student who titled it 'start slavery again' before posting it to Change.org, was created as a joke about slavery and needing a job, according to legal filings.
Pictured: Park Hill South High School, where four students were expelled and suspended after creating a 'joke' petition to bring back slavery
Nicole Price, pictured, said 'it was decided quickly. In order to make the Black Panthers stop showing up at the board meetings, to cause the parents to be quiet, these kids are gone'
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Three other students who were punished commented 'I love slavery,' 'I hate blacks,' and 'I want a slave.'
The four students who were punished for the petition, all of whom played for the school's football team, are described as having diverse ethnic backgrounds; one is black and Brazilian, two are white, and another student is white and Asian, according to the lawsuit.
A fifth student, who is black, also was involved but not disciplined.
'The racial identity of the students is kind of across the spectrum. When you talk to all four of the kids, the extent of their experience when it comes to racial terror in the United States was Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks assignment during Black History Month once,' said diversity consultant Nicole Price, according to Fox 2 Now. She was hired by the parents of the suspended students as an advisor.
She said in the students' defense, the overly harsh punishment 'could change the trajectory' of their lives.
A 15-year-old black student at LEAD Innovation who heard an announcement over the school P.A. system in the wake of its discovery became ‘really upset,’ her adoptive mother, Julie Stutterheim, said.
Julie Stutterheim, pictured, is the adoptive mother of a 15-year-old black student who became 'really upset' after hearing an announcement over the PA system in the wake of its discovery
Students at Park Hill South High School just outside of Kansas City, Missouri circulated a petition calling for the reinstatement of slavery, according to district officials
'She said, "You know, you're white, Mom. So you don't really know what this is like."'
'And I said,