Police are investigating the incident but the board of governors at the school in Bath have reportedly refused to expel three of the pupils allegedly responsible.

At least seven white teenagers are accused of chaining their fellow pupil to a lamppost and whipping him with sticks, calling him extreme racist names harking back to the slave trade, reports the Bath Chronicle.

The secondary school, which this newspaper has chosen not to name to protect the victim’s identity, says it “thoroughly investigated” what it described as “an incident” in January and that it took action “in line with statutory procedures”.

But all the alleged perpetrators were temporarily suspended and are now reportedly back at school – alongside the victim.

Three of the alleged perpetrators were originally expelled by the headteacher, but were allowed to return when the board of governors overturned the headteacher’s decision.

The governors decided the expelled trio should be excluded along with the other four boys for about two weeks over their actions.

The victim’s parents did not wish to comment, but other parents were fuming about the situation.

When originally questioned about the incident and how it was handled, the school said: “An incident took place in January which involved a group of established friends.

“This incident was thoroughly investigated by the school and action taken, in line with statutory procedures.

“The police were informed by us and an investigation is ongoing, fully assisted by the school.”

The chair of the board of governors said he was “not able to add anything” to the statement issued by the headteacher.

The school did not tell parents about the incident until today, after they learned the Bath Chronicle was going to publish a story.

But news of the incident had already spread, and several parents with children at the school were dismayed at the shocking nature of the alleged incident and particularly the school’s handling of it.

One Bath couple, who both have mixed-race children, are appalled at the implied message to pupils about the acceptability of racist behaviour.

The couple were willing to be named but we have chosen not to name them to protect the victim’s identity

The father said: “It just sends the wrong message out to the children.

“I’ve got a mixed-race son. He’s thinking ‘they’re going to stick up for the white kids but we get in trouble if we do something wrong’.”

His partner agreed, saying she was still “reeling” from shock at the apparent attitude of the school towards racism and the impact of that on the already traumatised victim.

“I want that child to know he’s got people around him, supporting him, who will not tolerate that kind of behaviour,” she said.

“The boy it happened to is just the sweetest little thing ever. He’s so sweet and kind and gentle. It just makes it even worse.

“The thing is I’ve got a mixed-race child and so has my partner.

“They believe nothing will happen to white children if they behave badly but something happens to them.”

She said, as a mother, she did not blame the perpetrators, who were just “children”, but that responsibility lay with the adults involved: their parents, the school and the governors.

“The boys are stupid,” she said. “What they did was really, really stupid and silly. But I’m not sure if they realise what they were doing was so terrible, but the parents…

“As a parent, my moral compass at the moment is screaming.

“Someone has to be held accountable for it. Someone has to say sorry.”

The school said it sent the following message to all parents and staff this morning: “We have today become aware of media interest in an incident which took place in January and involved a group of established friends and related to a single incident of unacceptable behaviour within the school grounds.

“A full investigation was instigated in line with both internal school procedures and Department of Education requirements, including contact with the police.

“You can be assured that the school has taken this incident exceptionally seriously and that our absolute priority was, and remains, that the right path is taken for all those involved as well as the wider school community.

“Given the ongoing police investigation and the need to protect all those involved, you will understand that it has been necessary to maintain confidentiality and consequently that the school does not wish to comment further.”

A police spokesman said: “We were made aware of an incident at [name of school], Bath, on January 22, which took place around lunchtime.

“Enquiries are ongoing and the school is assisting.

“Six boys have voluntarily attended a police station and another has agreed to voluntarily attend.

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