Bakersfield Christian High School President John Buetow sent a letter to parents to address an incident in which a student displayed the message “Black Lives Don’t Actually Matter” as their Zoom background during class.
Some of the other messages shared as backgrounds were “White Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.” Screenshots of the Zoom backgrounds were shared to social media platforms, and they show another student in the same class shared the message “BLM is a joke to society.”
The school opened an investigation into the incident immediately, Buetow wrote in a letter, obtained by KGET-17 and confirmed by Buetow, to students and parents Tuesday. School officials found that the messages were shared while the teacher was giving a presentation, which meant the teacher couldn’t see the students’ backgrounds while they were displayed.
Buetow wrote that there was anger in the community both because of the content of the Zoom backgrounds and because the screenshots had been shared publicly on social media.
“Bluntly, both of these reactions seem pretty reasonable,” he wrote in the letter to parents. “In other words, two wrongs do not make a right.”
Buetow declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday, except for sharing a prepared statement and to say: “It’s a tough situation for everyone.”
He also released a public statement, which said in part: "Black lives absolutely do matter. As a school — more specifically as a Christian school — we must be unequivocal in this statement. Black lives have been created in the image of God and are of inherent value. There are pivotal times in every nation’s history when the opportunity for societal change and growth is clearly evident. This is such a time in American history in regards to not only racial justice in general, but — very specifically — in regards to advancing the rights and opportunities of the African American community who has endured particular injustices through our nation’s history."
Buetow said in the letter to parents that he would not be releasing details about any disciplinary actions.
“Such a sharing of discipline would be inappropriate as we are in the business of helping teenagers to grow, not engaging in public excoriation," the letter said.
In his letter to parents, Buetow also wrote, "Where Black Lives Matter or any other organization supports this same goal, we are in absolute alignment. Period. Supporting one aspect which an organization espouses does not indicate a support of all of its positions or the manner in which it advances its goals."