SOUTHWICK — Students called a Black classmate the N-word and conducted a mock “slave auction” on social media, and school administrators have been too slow to root out racism at Southwick Regional School, the alleged victim’s mother, the local NAACP leader and an online petitioner all said over February vacation.

Southwick Police and the Hampden County district attorney are investigating the charge that some SRS students ran a mock slave auction on Snapchat. Police are treating the allegations as a “hate-based incident” and will file charges against those responsible if “criminality occurred,” Chief Robert Landis said on Feb. 20.

He said it is believed the students involved in the mock slave auction are all under 18 years old. That means that if charges are filed, they would be adjudicated in juvenile court, where their identities would not be public information.

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, according to a statement from James Leydon, his director of communications and public affairs, has directed members of his office and its State Police detective unit to investigate the allegations. Leydon said the district attorney’s office was made aware of the incident on Feb. 15.

“We will investigate any such allegations and will prosecute any criminal violations,” Leydon said in a statement.

After public statements by SRS parent Allyson Lopez and Bishop Talbert Swan II, president of the Greater Springfield NAACP, the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District confirmed that it had started an investigation Feb. 9 and completed it on Feb. 12, and that there was a “highly inappropriate and racist conversation on Snapchat, that involved students at our school,” according to School Committee Chair Robert Stevenson.

School Superintendent Jennifer Willard said in a statement: “We can assure the community that the district does issue consequences in accordance with our school code of conduct in these types of circumstances.”

Willard added, in a Feb. 16 statement, “… due to strict laws protecting student privacy, we are unable to comment on the specific disciplinary consequences and/or other steps taken by our district.”

In a televised interview aired Feb. 20, Lopez said that she spoke to school officials about the two incidents and an administrator had proposed an assembly to talk to students about race and the inappropriateness of making racist statements.

Lopez said during the interview that the assembly never happened, and that administrators didn’t contact her again until after she raised the issue publicly through the NAACP. School administrators later announced they would host an assembly Feb. 26, the day students returned from February break.

The district’s response wasn’t enough for Allison Scharmann, a 2017 graduate of Southwick Regional School who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University. Scharmann started an online petition calling for the resignations of Willard and SRS Principal Serena Shorter.

She said her petition, which has more than 1,500 signatures at tinyurl.com/y6z4ctpm, “was written in solidarity with, and in recognition of, their work,” referring to Lopez and Swan. It “exists to show that we, as students, alumni, parents, and community members, are listening and are joining them in the fight to hold the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District accountable for their failure to protect the children they purport to serve,” Scharmann wrote, adding, “in a community as small as Southwick’s, every voice counts.”

Scharmann said the school has a history of bullying and discrimination that needs to be confronted head-on.

“When I was a student, discrimination at Southwick Regional School was omnipresent,” Scharmann said. “Behaviors ranged from microaggressions and the use of racist and homophobic slurs in classrooms and hallways to a student flying a Confederate flag on their car in the school parking lot. LGBTQ+ students were frequently harassed, yet their tormentors went unpunished.”

The petition references the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District’s handbook and its policies regarding bullying.

“The school’s handbook states that, in substantiated instances of bullying, ‘the principal or designee will take reasonable steps to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target may fully participate in school and school activities,’” according to the petition.

The petition also calls out the administration if the students found to be involved in the bullying and auction have not faced any consequences: “… to allow the students responsible to return to SRS sends a message that we condone racism and harassment in our schools,” according to the petition.

It seeks the resignations of Willard, Shorter and any administrator found “complicit in the school leadership’s failure to curb harassment of Black students.”

Scharmann also asked for students who have experienced bullying or discrimination to share their experiences in the comments section of the petition, and several have done so.

After the petition was posted, the superintendent’s office said it would “not have any comments or statements on these topics.”