Foard student bullied with noose

Catawba County Schools (CCS) officials say a group of white boys bullied a black girl with a noose Monday afternoon at Fred T. Foard High School.

The boys have been suspended from school as CCS continues to investigate the incident, but Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid said authorities have completed an investigation and no laws were broken.

"The group took a piece of rope configured as a hangman's noose, showed it to her and said they would hang it on a porch," said Glenn Barger, superintendent of Catawba County Schools (CCS). "All of the students, including the victim, are ninth-graders."

Reid said the sheriff's office interviewed the students involved and the parents of the victim.

"We concluded that no crime was committed," Reid said. "We determined that nothing went against general statutes."

Barger said the boys received in-school suspensions Tuesday as administrators and authorities conducted interviews.

"Bullying at that level is not a criminal offense, but it is a school offense," Barger said. "I talked to the principal this afternoon and she said they interviewed the victim and the victim's parents together. From their determination, it didn't rise to the level of a hate crime, but it was bullying. A lot of things will have to be taken into consideration as we finalize the discipline."

CCS' handbook includes a policy prohibiting bullying, discrimination and harassment. The policy refers to the student code of conduct for discipline of students who bully, discriminate or harass, and expulsion is listed as a possible action.

Barger said he learned about the incident from a television news reporter. He said Foard administrators started investigating the incident Monday, but did not inform him nor the parents of the victim.

The victim's parents learned about the incident when she arrived home from school.

"We messed up," Barger said. "We should have contacted the victim's parents yesterday and let them know what was going on."

Barger said he's not aware of any other recent CCS incidents like Monday's bullying issue.

"(Administrators) will put together a plan of safety for (the victim)," he said. "That's something they'll work out with the parents and student."