Police have referred charges against one or more Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School students who directed racist and violent threats at one of their classmates.
On Monday, Trempealeau County District Attorney John Sacia said he had received charging documents for at least one of the students involved in the case. Sacia said he could not share further information, including the status of legal proceedings, due to the student or students being younger than 17.
The case involves a private group chat in which several G-E-T High School students used racist language and made violent threats when referring to one of their classmates.
According to a screenshot obtained by the Tribune, messages included “tar & feather this (N-word),” “Hang em” and “Shoot a (N-word) in the head with a shotgun.”
“And if he’s still standing,” one of the students wrote, “stop laughing and reload.”
The victim’s mother said that one of the students responded by posting a photo of four firearms, claiming he was going hunting.
“Threatening to shoot someone in the head is not EVER a joke,” the mother wrote on Facebook. “This is harassment, racial harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying! My son deserves to feel safe at school!”
Superintendent Aaron Engel addressed the issue last week in a letter to staff and families, writing that the situation “is as bad as it sounds.”
“We are appalled by the incident and are taking it very seriously,” Engel wrote. “There is simply no place for racist or threatening behavior in our schools.”
It is not clear whether the students in question have returned to school, or whether they have or will face discipline.
In his letter, Engel wrote that the district would “issue the appropriate discipline per the school district’s disciplinary code.”
But asked last week to clarify the nature and severity of that discipline, Engel said he could not.
The district’s student handbook states that students who have made threats “can/will be suspended from school, and not allowed to return until a certified mental health official provides the school assurance in writing that the student is not a threat to the safety of others.”
In extreme or persistent cases, the handbook states, the school board will consider expulsion.
Kyle Farris can be reached at 608-791-8234 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Kyle_A_Farris.
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