Teacher allegedly told student to ‘toughen up’ over racist Snapchat messages

Two students are now facing charges over the incident as well.

A Forsyth County middle school teacher is under investigation after allegedly telling a student who received racist Snapchat messages to “toughen up.”

Forsyth County Schools confirmed to AJC.com that the Vickery Creek Middle School teacher has not returned to class since Friday.

The student was allegedly telling the teacher about dozens of racist messages she received in a group chat that eventually led to 11 students being disciplined and two being charged.

RELATED: Racist Snapchat messages prompt investigation, discipline at Forsyth County middle school

The mother of a 13-year-old multiracial girl told Channel 2 Action News that her daughter reported the group chat to the teacher to inform her about the situation. The messages included references to lynching, slavery and several racial epithets. The mother asked Channel 2 to remain anonymous.

“I’m very uncomfortable here because they told me they were going to hang me. They said they were going to whip me like a slave to death, and they told me to kill myself,” the daughter reportedly told her teacher.

The teacher responded by saying, “You know these boys aren’t going to hang you. You really should toughen up,” the mother told the news station.

School district spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo told Channel 2 that the teacher “made a very inappropriate comment” to the student, prompting the personnel investigation.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is assisting in the investigation. Two students have been charged with terroristic threats, sheriff’s office Cpl. Doug Rainwater told Channel 2. He said they threatened physical harm to other students, with one using the word “shooting.”

“Once you use that word, we’re going to come to your house and make sure you have no means of actually doing something like that,” Rainwater said.

Attorney Thomas Reynolds, who represents the 13-year-old girl’s mother in addition to another family involved in this investigation, previously told the news station that the messages included more than 60 uses of the n-word in addition to other obscenities. Channel 2 reported that nearly 40 kids were included in the Snapchat group, including several Vickery Creek students.

“It’s some of the worst language I’ve ever seen,” he said. “They’re talking about whipping people, hanging them in trees.”

This is a censored screenshot of the Snapchat messages that prompted Forsyth County Schools to launch an investigation.

icon to expand image

The mother of the other family Reynolds represents told Channel 2 that her 13-year-old son is one of the 11 students being disciplined. Her son, who is biracial, was “called the n-word over and over,” during the exchange, she said. The woman also asked the news station to remain anonymous.

The teen reacted with a threat after someone posted a picture of a slave and suggested the man in the picture was his grandfather. His grandfather died “not too long ago” and “he was very hurt” by the Snapchat conversation, the teen’s mother said. His response, however, resulted in a 10-day suspension and possible expulsion.

It’s unknown whether he’s one of the two students who faces criminal charges.

The two mothers told the news station that school administrators have not acted on previous reports of racism at Vickery Creek. Reynolds said they are “interested to see what (the school) did previously that might have been able to prevent this.”

Caracciolo told Channel 2 that the school district has “responded appropriately” to prior reports, adding that “if someone feels that we have not, we are always willing to listen.” She brought up that the county has had several notorious events of racism in its past, including a lynching in 1912 and two civil rights marches in 1987.

The school district previously released a statement about the investigation that said, in part: “The hateful language and racism used by these children are not tolerated in our schools. Forsyth County Schools expects and demands that all individuals are treated with integrity, dignity and respect.”