12 News, Phoenix

Local high school students were the talk of social media Friday after a photo of them displaying a racial slur on T-shirts was posted online.

The photo shows several students from Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee forming an apparent racial slur with letters and symbols on black T-shirts.

The picture was taken the day of the annual panoramic yearbook picture for seniors. Students are allowed to wear pre-approved shirts with lettering or messages. The offensive configuration of letters and symbols did not appear in the panoramic picture, nor did any faculty member see or approve the display. But another photo shows a larger group of students wearing similar shirts with a different message, “Best you ever seen class of 2016.”

But regardless of the original message or the one shown in the photo parents, other students and the internet was outraged.

“I’m horrified that we live in a community like this. I’m just horrified,” said Marita Loghran, a mother of a Desert Vista student.

Marita’s husband expressing similiar concern saying it shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere.

“My children feel they’re in a hostile environment while other children think it’s funny. It’s disgusting,” said Paul Loghran, a father of a student.

A school district spokeswoman told 12 News the students took this photo after the official yearbook photo was taken.

Tempe Union High School District found out about the incident Friday and says it has taken swift disciplinary action.

“Words cannot express the outrage,” Jill Hanks from the Tempe Union High School District said. “What were they thinking? We had some students that made a really bad decision this morning.”

A spokeswoman told 12 News the photo is unacceptable and does not represent the student body or the district. The school’s Black Student Union also tweeted out a picture of some of the students, saying the incident does not reflect their beliefs.

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