A Mississippi high school student has been disciplined following allegations that white students put a noose around the neck of a black football player and "yanked backward," the Associated Press reports.
Officials acknowledged that Stone High School's conduct code was violated in the Oct. 13 incident, school-district attorney Sean Courtney said, adding that one student has been disciplined in accordance with district policies.
According to AP, Courtney did not identify the student or specify what punishment was handed out, citing privacy rules. However, Courtney denied allegations from the NAACP that the district did not handle the situation properly.
In a statement earlier this week, the NAACP said: “They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal. Allowing students to commit blatant hate crimes without severe consequences sends a message to students that their safety and well-being are not valuable enough to be protected."
The state NAACP has been calling for the situation to be investigated as a federal hate crime.
"To suggest that the district did not follow its policies and procedures, or otherwise not investigate and address this issue, is patently false," Courtney told AP in an email. "This matter has been one that tears at the fabric of our schools and our community, and the administration does not intend for it to be swept under the rug or otherwise ignored."
The disciplined student has also been kicked off the football team, according to football coach John Feaster, who is the first African-American coach in the history of the school, where 75 percent of the 800 students are white. As AP notes, Stone High is the only public high school in a county of 18,000 residents.
Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said that the parents of the victim have not received any official word about punishments from school officials, emphasizing that policy calls for the immediate expulsion of individuals who commit assault.
Johnson also wants the teens involved in the alleged incident to be charged as adults, which Mississippi law allows for in some cases for children between the ages of 13 and 18.
"No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck," Johnson said at a Monday news conference. "This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment."
The football coach said that the alleged victim is doing as well as he can, describing the sophomore as "a tough kid who's hanging in there."
"He knows I love him and his teammates love him and the coaching staff loves him and he isn't going to be treated any differently," Feaster told the Sun Herald, AP notes. "He's one of my favorite kids on this team."
Read more at the Associated Press.