A West Virginia school district is investigating after a varsity basketball player says he walked into the guest locker room at a rival school to find a racist drawing of himself.
Westside High School junior Jace Colucci claims he found the image pinned to a bulletin board, showing a stick figure with its face colored in and hanging by a noose, CBS News reported. A small arrow pointing to the figure had Jace’s name scribbled next to it.
The 17-year-old had arrived for a game at nearby Wyoming East High School in New Richmond on Jan. 17 when he stumbled upon the racist doodle. He took a picture and showed it to his mother, who’s now calling on the school and local police to take swift action.
“He shouldn’t have to go through this just to get an education,” Colucci’s mom, Erica Ayers, told local station WVNS. “It was a racial threat of him hanging from a noose and to me … they crossed a line.”
Deidre Cline, Superintendent of Wyoming County Schools, confirmed the incident is being investigated and said the district takes reports of bullying and harassment “very seriously.”
“We have zero tolerance for any form of bullying or harassment,” Cline said in a statement. “The drawing and its origin will be investigated, thoroughly, [and] any necessary action will be taken. Wyoming County Schools values every student!”
The authorities have also been notified, she said, and are investigating the drawing as a possible hate crime.
“We will work to thoroughly assist and cooperate in every way with the [police] investigation,” Cline added.
This reportedly isn’t the first time Colucci, who’s the only Black player on his team, has faced racist attacks.
“Last year, before we were heading to East, I received a phone call that a video had surfaced on Snapchat and it was kids chanting ‘Hang Jace! Hang Jace!,” Ayers explained.
She reported the incident to school officials and was told the perpetrators had been identified and punished accordingly. But that wasn’t the case.
Cline said the district and sheriff’s office looked into the video, but were ultimately unable to determine exactly what the students chanted.
Colucci’s mother has since retained an attorney and is vowing to fight for her son. They’re currently weighing what options they have under state and federal law.
“Jace is a brave young man for coming forward after enduring repeated acts of bullying and racial harassment,” the family’s attorney, Sean Cook, told NBC News. “He realizes the importance of coming forward so something like this doesn’t happen again to not just him, but others.”
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