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Florida teen made a promposal with a joke about blacks ‘picking cotton.’ People aren’t laughing

(CNN) — Creative “promposals” are all the rage these days among high schoolers. But this one didn’t go so well.

A senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida, recently decided to ask a girl to the prom by holding up a sign.

It read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”

The student has been identified as Noah Crowley, according to a statement from his family’s attorney obtained by CNN.

A picture of Crowley holding the sign was posted to social media — where people love to have nuanced conversations on race — over the weekend. It immediately sparked outrage, with someone on Snapchat asking, “Whooo said this was OK?”

The school didn’t think it was OK. Acting principal Kathy Wilks sent a letter to parents Monday saying the school is investigating and “absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post,” according to CNN affiliate WFLA.

The Sarasota County School District weighed in too. It sent in counselors to Riverview High School in case students wanted to talk about the controversy and said it would work with civil rights groups such as the NAACP to develop a roundtable forum to talk about race.

“Many who saw the post … are understandably upset with its contents and commentary,” the school district said in a statement. “This incident remains an ongoing investigation and any disciplinary action and recommendation will be made accordingly.

“Although this message is one student’s opinion, we take the matter of racial relations and school safety seriously, and we look forward to working with our students and these outside groups to have a meaningful and informative dialogue and expanded curriculum related to this important national topic.”

The promposal sign also caught the attention of the local NAACP chapter, which condemned its message.

“A strong statement needs to be made to their student body that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on any of our campuses throughout the school district, and, if so, there are going to be severe consequences,” Trevor Harvey, president of the NAACP’s Sarasota chapter, told WFLA.

Crowley had already apologized on social media. But his parents, through their attorney’s statement, apologized too.

“While our son has apologized himself, on behalf of our family, we wish to also express our most sincere apologies for the terrible words used in his ‘promposal.’ We love our son dearly and know that he is a far better person than reflected in this reckless behavior. That said, as loving parents, we also feel compelled to share our own deep regret and serious concern about his actions,” the statement reads.

“As a family, we truly recognize this incident is a very difficult but important life lesson and pledge to do all we can to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Certainly, we hope that all of the people and communities who were hurt and offended will forgive our son and family.”

Crowley and his family have also decided he won’t be attending any upcoming school functions, including Riverview High School’s prom, set for May 5, or graduation.

Riverview student Erin Williams, who posted a photo of the sign to Facebook, felt the promposal was a joke that went too far.

“I think it was something that he thought was gonna be funny, but its not,” Williams, who is black, told WFLA. “So this is a good thing to talk about, because you have to recognize something to change it, and then you have to keep it that way,” she added.