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King Philip students suspended for ‘hate crime’

Several students at a regional high school in Norfolk are being disciplined for harassing a classmate and the classmate’s mother in an incident the school’s superintendent described as a “hate crime.”

The students directed “inappropriate and racist slurs” at the victim, who was their sports teammate at King Philip Regional High School, King Philip Regional School District Superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski said in a statement posted to the school’s website.

The students obtained the mother’s phone number and shared it with other students, she said. Several called the number repeatedly and made “inappropriate sexual comments.”

“The actions of these students can be considered a hate crime,” she said in the statement.


The school district disciplined the students by issuing school suspensions and game suspensions, and also notified local and State Police, Zielinski said.

State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said he had no immediate information on the incident.

“I want to emphasize this type of behavior is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our school community,” Zielinski said in the statement. “It not only violates the policies of the King Philip Regional School District, it creates an unwelcoming and hostile environment for our students and families.”

The high school established a “Cultural Proficiency Group,” Zielinski said, in order to improve race relations. The group is planning seminars and events for the community aimed at discussing racism at the school.

“If we do not publicly address these issues, then we as a community will be complicit and remain a part of the problem rather than the solution,” she said in the statement. “We take pride in our diversity, which makes King Philip a stronger school district.”

Telephone and e-mail messages left at Zielinski’s office were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at alyssa.meyers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.