Avon and Somerset Police are investigating a ‘mock slave auction’ at a secondary school in Bath, in which a number of white teenagers tied up a black pupil during a lunchtime break.
The incident at the school in Bath, which has remained unnamed to protect the identity of the victim, took place on 22nd January.
It’s believed at least seven white teenagers tied their fellow black classmate to a lamppost in the school grounds and whipped him with sticks while shouting racist abuse.
The headteacher at the school suspended those involved, and later expelled three of the students, but governors caused controversy by overturning the expulsion decision and allowing the trio back to the school.
The school has said the incident was thoroughly investigated and “action taken, in line with statutory procedures”.
The school has confirmed the police were informed, and an investigation is continuing.
Parents and staff were sent the following message after increased media interest in the incident earlier this week.
“We have today become aware of media interest in an incident which took place in January and involved a group of established friends and related to a single incident of unacceptable behaviour within the school grounds.
A full investigation was instigated in line with both internal school procedures and Department of Education requirements, including contact with the police.
“You can be assured that the school has taken this incident exceptionally seriously and that our absolute priority was, and remains, that the right path is taken for all those involved as well as the wider school community.
“Given the on-going police investigation and the need to protect all those involved, you will understand that it has been necessary to maintain confidentiality and consequently that the school does not wish to comment further.”
In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: “Enquiries are ongoing and the school is assisting.
“Six boys have voluntarily attended a police station and another has agreed to voluntarily attend.”
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said: “This has shaken our city’s community to the core. I am shocked that this has happened, and appalled that the governors have overturned the expulsions.
“We need to look at ourselves, our attitudes and our behaviours, and make sure that we are all are acting in ways that result in a welcoming and tolerant community.
“There is no place for racism and hatred in Bath, or indeed in civilised society.”
Bath & North East Somerset Council issued the following statement: “The council is undertaking all the appropriate safeguarding enquiries. A police investigation is also underway.
“The council will consider what action needs to be taken once the current enquiries are completed, but cannot comment any further while the police investigation is ongoing.
“The majority of secondary schools in Bath and North East Somerset are academies, under the responsibility of the Regional Schools Commissioner.
“Bath & North East Somerset Council is acting in relation to its safeguarding role and responsibilities.”