“I never thought I’d have to be scared for my life walking past an assistant principal at my school.”: AP Kneels on Student’s Neck at Panther Creek


Graphic made by A. Guo

Students say administration needs to be held accountable.

A. Guo, Editor-in-Chief

“I am a Black student that attends Panther Creek High School. I never thought I’d have to be scared for my life walking past an assistant principal at my school.”


On Tuesday, December 7th of last week, Assistant Principal Jonathan Chang kneeled on a student’s neck. The student was already being restrained by a Cary school resource officer, yet for at least 24 seconds, Chang’s knee remained on the student. Chang is now suspended with pay and the police officer continued working in school until Friday, December 10th.

The incident became publicized through a Tik Tok video and a combination of fear, disgust, and shock was felt in students, parents, and teachers across the county. Maya, a Black junior who shared a class with the restrained student from Panther Creek recalls viewing the video for the first time, “I felt sick. After everything that happened last summer, seeing the death of George Floyd broadcasted everywhere I looked, I NEVER thought that something even close to that situation would happen at the school that I attend every single day and to a student I see every single day.”

Many students were also disappointed with the way the administration handled communicating the incident. They were not told Chang was still being paid nor even what happened until days after the event. Snapchat and TikTok were the main platforms in which most of the student body discovered what had happened.

Some have described the event’s aftermath as severely underwhelming. Maya states, “I want to know that at my own school, my peers and I will be safe from the use of excessive force for situations that do not require it. The administrator has been suspended but in order for me to feel safe, I need him to be fired.” 

Due to feelings of unsafety, Maya decided to write an email with her peers to the school administration, voicing their concerns about Chang’s future at Panther Creek. Instead of replying directly to students, the principal, Greg Decker, wrote an email to parents indirectly addressing those worries and assuring of students’ safety at Panther Creek. Maya was unsatisfied with the response, “We can only hope that is true.”

Those concerns extend to Green Level High School, a school in which many seniors used to attend Panther Creek. Laura Norman is one of those students, “I was angry and still am,” though she notes the situation is not yet over, “I think the better reflection of PC and Wake county’s values will be how they respond. If they do nothing and the principal gets off without punishment, that will definitely say a lot.”