Photos that showed several high school students spelling out a slang version of the N-word with their bodies sparked a protest at the weekend.
Five separate pictures showing the students forming letters on the floor of the gymnasium at Heuvelton Central School in New York were edited together to spell out the racial slur.
That combined image was posted in a private group chat, according to WWNY, before someone shared it with a student whose mother subsequently shared it on Facebook.
“Here is what my girls deal with for Black History Month at Heuvelton School!” Amy Chisholm, whose two biracial daughters attend the school, wrote on February 8.
It sparked an outcry and led an estimated 50 students taking part in a protest against racism in Heuvelton on Saturday. Students told reporters a school sit-in also took place.
Students involved have been been disciplined following an investigation by school administrators, he Heuvelton Central School District said in a statement on Friday.
It did not reveal details about the “appropriate disciplinary action.”
“We are aware that some of you would like to know exactly what type of discipline was applied,” it added. “We hope you will understand we are required by law to protect the privacy of the individuals who have been identified so we cannot provide details about discipline for individual students.”
Chisholm’s daughter Mikaylah, a seventh grader, said the incident was not the first instance of racism at the school. “Sometimes I can’t even go a day without being called the N-word, or just like something, said to me,” she told WWNY.
Parents and students also recalled incidents of racial bullying dating back several years at a meeting of the Huevelton school board last week.
The school district also said it has collaborated with the New York State Police, who are conducting a separate investigation into the gymnasium incident.
The district also said it plans to “actively implement” initiatives that will create “a safe and inclusive environment” at Heuvelton Central School.
“While we are horrified by this week’s incident, we are determined to continue our work to create a safe and respectful school community where we can have productive conversations about race and honor multiple perspectives,” the statement added.
“This event has served as a catalyst for change in our school district, and we understand that we must all take steps towards improving our work for racial equity.”
Chisholm, the Heuvelton School District and New York State Police have been contacted for additional comment.