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A High School Is Investigating After Students Discussed "Stringing A N***er Up" In A Group Chat

Police will not be filing any criminal charges against the students who made disturbing racist threats in a leaked group chat, according to Haywood County Schools' superintendent.

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The principal and assistant principal of Haywood High School in Brownsville, Tennessee have been suspended without pay as officials investigate group chats where students wrote racial slurs and disturbing threats against one or more black people — including the phrase "stringing a nigger up."

Kyler Douglas / Facebook

Three former and one current student provided BuzzFeed News screenshots of a private group chat, which they said took place among white Haywood High School students, in which they reference "hang[ing] nigger lovers" and making an "example" out of them.

The principal and assistant principal were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, Haywood County Schools Superintendent Joey Hassell confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

"The Board of Education cannot legally comment on any investigation concerning its students; however, hatred, racism, and bigotry have no place in our school district," Hassell said.

The school district's leaders announced that they are also planning on meeting with Haywood County NAACP and parent representatives.

Haywood alumni Kyler Douglas, 21, was one of the first to publicly share the photos of the text to his Facebook page two weeks ago. He told BuzzFeed News a friend who is a current student at the school sent them to him but had himself been "too scared to say something."

Douglas said his friend is a black student on the Haywood High School baseball team, and claims the students in the group chat are also members of the baseball team.

School officials told BuzzFeed News they were made aware of the messages late Sunday morning.

The same current and former students told BuzzFeed News said they were told the students who sent the messages were asked to write a 10-page essay as punishment.

I'm here now and this is true. The punishment....a ten page paper. No expulsion, no suspension from the team. N… https://t.co/SJPUndgG76

The associate superintendent of the Haywood County school district, Art Garrett, did not confirm or deny this was the case to BuzzFeed News, but added that the alleged essay punishment "is all part of the investigation that is underway."

"Once the investigation is completed, appropriate action will be taken based on the findings and following school board policy," Garrett added.

On Monday, students, parents, and members of the community showed up to the school in protest. Some claimed that not enough has been done to penalize the students responsible and to protect those who were threatened.

Facebook: video.php

"Something needs to happen," said Douglas, who participated in the sit-in protest at the school. "I don't know if anything will happen."

Freshman Angelina Ferrer, who skipped her classes Monday to participate in the protest, said she believed the alleged punishment the white students received was not sufficient enough.

"We will not stop until we get justice with the school system," she said.

The school's principal, Jerry Pyron, did not return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

In an official statement via its Facebook page, Hassell said the school district is "cooperating with the Brownsville Police Department to ensure that we have a safe, orderly learning environment for our students."

Facebook: HaywoodCountySchools

Hassell also stated that Brownsville police will not be filing any criminal charges against the students in the group chat.

BuzzFeed News attempted to contact the police department but were informed that there was no one in the office who could take any questions — “There’s no one in the office; they’re all at the high school protest,” a dispatcher said.

In the aftermath of Monday's protests, however, Hassell announced that the district had launched an in-depth investigation into the allegations regarding the messages.

The investigation will look into those who made the posts, as well as anyone who was aware of the posts and failed to report them, Hassell said in a statement. The investigation is underway, he said, and is expected to continue for the rest of the week.

On Tuesday, following a meeting with the Haywood County NAACP, Hassell said the district would "immediately remove all students involved on the baseball team and others, who are responsible for making these life-threatening comments/remarks, from the school system," pending the results of the investigation.

Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in New York.

Contact Tanya Chen at tanya.chen@buzzfeed.com.

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