Updated story on the front page.
UPDATED AT 2:24 p.m.
Officials at the Caesar Rodney School District are investigating a photograph that appeared online that appears to show the district mascot holding a paper inscribed with a racial slur.
District Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald released a statement about the incident at about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
“The Caesar Rodney School District is distressed that our mascot would be used in such a manner and we strongly disavow the statement,” Fitzgerald wrote.
“The Caesar Rodney School District and Caesar Rodney High School consider racial slurs reprehensible and are deeply disturbed by the content of this message.”
Fitzgerald said the district has “zero tolerance for this behavior.”
Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said his division is assisting with the investigation.
District spokesman Dave Chambers said CR High School principal Sherry Kijowski learned about the photograph Oct. 4 from a Twitter posting.
Addressing students and staff at the school Thursday, Kijowski said, “This behavior has absolutely no place in Rider Country.
“I assure you that we will do everything within our power to find the individuals responsible for this hateful message with the help of the Delaware State Police. I ask that you continue to be proud of your school and be the best version of yourselves.
“You define what it means to be a Rider, not a picture, not a post,” she said.
Fitzgerald added, “We understand our community and our students have been hurt by this message.
“This message is reprehensible and in no way represents our school district, our high school, our community and our students,” he said. “We are committed to providing a safe environment in which our students can learn and we do everything in our power to continue the proud tradition that we have for the last 102 years.”
A comparison of with the online photo and one published September 2015 in the Dover Post show a striking resemblance between the two. In the online photo, the mascot is holding a sign saying "****** don’t belong at CR."
Online reaction to the incident has been swift and angry, with comment ranging from “disgusting and sad,” to “one moron wanting to stir up hate and chaos.”
It is not clear if the online photograph has been digitally manipulated to include the words on the paper.