Racial slur allegedly used in text message between two schools creates controversy

It's a chain of text messages that caught the staff of a Catholic high school by surprise.

The shocking conversation purported to be between a student-athlete and a recruiter from another school.

But what was it really?

The student's family notified district officials in Warrensville Heights about the interaction.

Screenshots of the text messages show the conversation ended when the alleged recruiter from St. Ignatius called the young man a racial slur.

Those messages were then sent to News 5 by the communications coordinator for Warrensville schools.

"Racial epithets are used, we know that," said James Hardiman, President of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP.

However, the one that appeared in the text message in question did not come from someone at St. Ignatius according to a school spokesperson.

Turns out, someone was posing as the employee.

"There is enough of a problem that is going on in our society without having to manufacture problems," said Hardiman.

Just hours after their communications coordinator encouraged our newsroom to do a story, the superintendent in Warrensville Heights told us the district was not involved in the alleged communications and it was retracting the information they provided.

"As responsible adults, we have an obligation to check our facts and then recheck our facts to make sure that if an allegation is made that it is verified," said Hardiman.

As St. Ignatius launches an investigation into who is behind the messages, Hardiman is expressing concerns about this apparent misstep by the Warrensville Heights School District.

"I'm willing to accept this was a misunderstanding. But it does affect the credibility of organizations that are committed to civil rights and civil liberties," said Hardiman.

Hardiman said this is a reminder for everyone to remain vigilant and mindful. He expects to see more of this in the future.

“It's very important that if we want to retain credibility we make sure we know what it is we are talking about before we say something or cry wolf. We do ourselves a disservice unless we check it out thoroughly, verify it and then recheck it to make sure there is any merit to charges we receive."

The superintendent in Warrensville Heights told News 5 that the information his district released was not authorized by him or the board of education.

Meantime, St. Ignatius is working with police to determine the source of the texts.           

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