The Madison School District and La Follette High School administrative officials are investigating the use of racist language and the creation of an online graphic that showed a student holding an Airsoft pellet gun, according to an email sent to families Tuesday.
“It was brought to our attention on Monday that a student had used racist language, specifically the N-word, in a group text chat over the weekend. Screenshots taken of the chat were then shared with other La Follette students, causing deep harm to many,” La Follette interim principal Mat Thompson wrote in an email to parents Tuesday.
An online graphic, known as a meme, was created using a social media profile photo of the student holding an Airsoft pellet gun, which began circulating as well, and prompted rumors that the student was planning to cause harm to students and staff, Thompson said.
“We have been in close contact with the student’s family, and we have confirmed no threat was made,” he said.
The school launched an investigation into the incident and contacted the district’s Office of School Safety, other key district staff and the student’s family, according to the email.
Thompson said the entire school met via Zoom on Tuesday to discuss the incident and that the school plans to include discussions on racism, bias and bigotry in the curriculum.
He also asked the La Follette community not to share the meme or screenshots of the chat on social media or between peers to minimize harm caused to students.