Athletes at a Massachusetts high school have been suspended after allegedly using a racist slur directed at a teammate.
In a letter to parents, school officials at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham said they notified police that freshman students on the football team used the slur against a fellow student, then shared that student's mother's phone number with fellow students, leading to repeated calls making inappropriate sexual comments.
According to a statement from King Philip Regional School District Superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski, the alleged actions "can be considered a hate crime."
The students accused in the incident were suspended from school and from games. Their identities were not revealed.
NBC Boston spoke to the mother of one of the football players who said the incident is not reflective of the school or community.
"My son feels like there's a very uncomfortable environment for him. What's important to me is I want an environment where my kid can flourish," said the mother, who did not want to be identified.
Wrentham police do not believe the incident is a hate crime and are not pursuing charges.
Richard Harding leads the Cambridge branch of hte NAACP, and is asking everyone in the community to look into the mirror, heal, and work together toward a solution.
"Try to put in policies that are intentional about making sure people understand that there's an expectation to respect their neighbors," Harding said.
Zielinski is inviting parents and students "in having an honest, constructive and thoughtful conversation about harmful behaviors." The superintendent explained that a Cultural Proficiency Group had been established at the high school, and that input from the school community in its planning would be welcome.
"We want to learn and embrace our differences to better understand ourselves and the world where our students will soon be employed," Zielinski said in the statement. "Let's continue to work together to strengthen and empower our students to be thoughtful and caring leaders."