Blurred image of a black doll hanging from ceiling at Coatesville High School. The image was blurred intentionally by NBC10 in Philadelphia, it said, because it might be upsetting to viewers. (Image from NBC10 Philadelphia)

A black doll with toothpaste dripping from her mouth was found hanging from a ceiling in the locker room of a Pennsylvania high school, and athletes interviewed by authorities about it said it was a “foolish prank.” The superintendent of the school district, however, said, “We cannot accept that reasoning.” She would not tolerate “any kind of racial insensitivity,” she said.

The doll was found hanging in the locker room at Coatesville Area High School in the Coatesville Area School District after pictures of it appeared on social media. The district superintendent, Cathy Taschner, wrote a letter to the community saying that the doll had been found in the trash by some members of the cross-country running team and that they began to play with it, saying it could become their mascot.

A coach found them with the doll, the letter said, and put it back in the trash. Someone retrieved it and stuck it in an open ceiling tile, where it remained for a few weeks until someone hung it from the ceiling.

The letter says in part:

Our first concern was that this was an intentional hate crime. The incident was reported to the school police for investigation and the District Attorney’s Office. While team members interviewed by administrators indicated this was a foolish prank and that their intent was not to cause racial intimidation, we cannot accept that reasoning. This incident is offensive, insensitive and not reflective of the kind of behavior we expect or will tolerate from our students.

Administrators will meet with team members and their parents to discuss the matter, as well as disciplinary action, in the coming days. The Coatesville Area School District does not tolerate or condone hate crimes of any kind, nor will we tolerate any kind of racial insensitivity. We will discipline any student or staff member found responsible for this act to the full extent that our policies allow. This simply will not be tolerated in our district.

A number of stories in the media said the superintendent herself had called the incident a “foolish prank,” even though she did not.

Here’s the letter from the superintendent to the school community: