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New Jersey's Collingswood High School facing multiple investigations after alleged racial bias incident

Investigations underway after alleged racial bias incident at Collingswood High School in New Jersey
Investigations underway after alleged racial bias incident at Collingswood High School in New Jersey 02:13

COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Collingswood High School is conducting a harassment, intimidation and bullying investigation after students were allegedly involved in a racial bias incident that happened before spring break. 

Students told CBS News Philadelphia they're aware of racial tension on campus.

"It is real disrespectful to the people who are at the school," said one student who did not want to be identified.

CBS News Philadelphia was told some students formed a "White Student Union." The district said it was informed by administrators about the existence of the non-sanctioned group of students who allegedly engaged in unacceptable actions.

The district said this incident is also being investigated by the Collingswood Police Department and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

Superintendent Fred McDowell would not release specific details because it's an active investigation, but in a letter sent to the school community he addressed the incident, writing in part, "As a Collingswood resident, a school district parent, and your superintendent, I am deeply troubled by the allegations. As a school community, we have a lot of work remaining to deliver on the promise of a robust educational experience that values and respects all students in our schools."

He went on to say, "The road to meaningful progress is a long one and we remain deeply committed to dismantling racism in all its forms and providing equal access to an education that will empower all students."

"The school district has had, for a number of years, noted issues of racial tension," Jen Rossi, a parent in the district, said.

According to McDowell, last year students held peaceful protests, which led to changes regarding how students can report possible discrimination.

Rossi said she believes the district is taking this latest incident seriously, and she hopes it also sparks change.

"Dr. McDowell, I think, is doing what he can to include not just the administration and discipline, but also looking at the whole student and whole problem," Rossi said.

It's unclear if the students have been punished, but the superintendent said in that letter anyone who violates the district code of conduct will be disciplined appropriately.

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