The Christian School District in St. Charles County, Missouri is facing criticism from parents after five white teachers were photographed spelling out the word "coons" with oversized Scrabble letters.
Local news station KSDK reports that the teachers spelled out the racial slur while playing a game of human Scrabble, although they insist they didn't mean to communicate any kind of racism when they spelled out the word.
But Pastor Raymond Horry, who has two children in the school district, tells KSDK that he's not buying that explanation.
"They were running around trying to spell raccoon, but they didn't have the R and the A," he said. "I don't believe it that five Caucasian teachers, not one of them knew that. Maybe one didn't know it, maybe two didn't know it, but all 5 didn't know it?"
One mother in the district tells KSDK that her son immediately understood the significance of the word when he saw it posted online.
"He absolutely told me, 'Mom, I'm tired of it, do what you need to do because this is not fair and I'm tired of feeling like this,'" she said.
The school district has apologized for the photo.
"We recognize that this ill-informed action caused hurt and offense to many students and families in our school and in the wider community," the district said. "We offer no excuse as to why this word was used. In a statement to families last night, we apologized for the incident and sought their forgiveness. We also ask that of anyone who has been impacted by this picture."
Watch KSDK's report below.