The Martin County School District in South Florida has launched an investigation after a photo showing six white students holding letters that spelled out the word “nigger” began circulating online Monday (May 16).

According to a statement from the district, school officials at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Palm City were able to confirm the authenticity of the photo.

In the statement from Tuesday (May 17), Superintendent Dr. John Millay said, “Last night, the Martin County School District launched a comprehensive investigation into the origin and authenticity of an inappropriate and disturbing photo circulating on social media.” He continued, “We are moving with all deliberate speed to interview all those who may have been involved in this shameful incident, and, unfortunately, can confirm that the photo is authentic. We expect to have our investigation finalized within the next 48 hours.”

Millay added that the school district is “committed to promoting and maintaining a learning environment free of hateful, racist and discriminatory actions or conduct.”

Due to the age of the students in the photos, they have not been publicly identified. Martin County School District also said they cannot discuss what punishment the students may face.

In the photo, the six students each held a large, handmade letter and stood next to each other to spell out the racial slur. Each letter was decorated with a different design.

An attorney named Marwan Porter who lives near that community told CNN incidents like this make way for incidents like Saturday’s (May 14) racially driven Buffalo, New York massacre.

“What we saw wasn’t racism, it was beyond racism. It was terrorism. And that is what’s happening in our community,” Porter said while speaking about the photo.

Millay ended his statement with, “We have and will continue to enforce a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. I will work towards partnering with the leaders in our community to reinforce our values in this regard and will continue to strive towards fostering a learning environment free of bigotry and racism.”