PENNINGTON — A white Hopewell Valley Central High School student was suspended after sending friends Snapchat messages with the caption “Who wants to be lynched” and calling a black student a “monkey.”

Superintendent Thomas Smith said the district is working with Hopewell Township police to investigate the "racially charged social media post."

"As a school district, we are committed to improving equity and cultural competency among our students and staff. The actions of this student do not reflect the values of our district or our community. The decision by a CHS student to post these disturbing and hurtful images underscores the need to continue this work in our schools and our community," Smith wrote in a letter to the community. It does not disclose the identity of any of the students.

The incident drew the attention of U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, who shared screenshots of the posts on her Facebook page.

A report by the Trentonian included screenshots of the messages, which had been shared online by parents.

Baye Kemit, the parent of the child named in the "monkey" post, said the suspended child's parent told him his child is not a racist and claimed not to know about the posts. Kemit also claimed that the student had randomly called black students at CHS the "N" word.

In an earlier post, Kemit called the school "racist"  and said parents should be demanding diversity in the the curriculum of "predominantly white schools" like CHS.

"This is bigger than my son and that school," he wrote. "It’s even larger than the student who posted 'SUP NI**GAS, WHO WANTS TO BE LYNCHED?' If anyone knows me and my family, we have been speaking out against this forever AND creating programs (schools, organizations, events, etc) to give Black children a framework and foundation to combat the ills of this American society."

Kemit said a prosecutor was investigating the matter and was not taking it lightly. The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately return a request seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

CHS had an enrollment of 1,251 as of the 2015-16 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, most of whom were white.

In February 2017, the district food vendor offered fried chicken to commemorate Black History Month. The school and the vendor issued apologies and said the intention was to celebrate soul food and not reinforce stereotypes.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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