A principal and three teachers have been suspended after a leaked photo showed them grinning while posing with a noose at their school.
The picture was initially posted online by the principal of Palmdale’s Summerwind Elementary School, Linda Brandt. She also shared it with her fellow teachers via e-mail. From there, the controversial photo quickly spread over the internet and caught the attention of the media.
Following the leak, the principal and three other teachers seen on the photo have been placed on administrative leave.
While some members of the public suggested the image was totally unacceptable and insensitive, others defended the teachers’ actions saying the photo merely represented the ‘back-to-school necklaces’ joke.
In the educators’ circle, nooses, also referred to as ‘back-to-school necklaces,’ suggest that one would rather kill themselves than return to teaching after a school break.
While the principal and the teachers clearly didn’t think much of their dark humor ‘joke,’ people went on a rampage after the photo leaked.
“They had the audacity to show up today,” a former teacher and administrator, Shaka Phillipps, said in an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle.
“The integrity of the school is completely compromised. To the black community, a noose is a weapon, a symbol of slavery and lynching.”
Shaka’s niece, who is attending the Summerwind Elementary School, also spoke out and admitted she’s “now questioning the education every student of color has received in this class.”
An older brother of another student explained that a noose can be perceived as racist by African Americans because it serves as a reminder of the times when slavery was normalized.
“I showed her the picture of her teacher and of someone hanging from a tree,” Randle Jr. said. “She’s sad and shocked that her teacher would hold a torture device.”
According to a concerned parent, Breyon Clemmons, one of the teachers who got suspended was previously involved in a racial controversy.
“I’ve requested that my kid be taken out of one classroom because that teacher, in particular, has shown prejudice discrimination against my kid and when I requested the black teacher I got grief for that,” Ms. Clemmons said in an interview with Fox 11.
While plenty of parents rallied to demand the principal and the teachers to get fired, the school district decided to place them on administrative leave while they are investigating the matter.
“Our Palmdale Promise to our students and community is to ensure the following: EQUITY for all our students, schools, and communities as reflected in outcomes and opportunities,” Palmdale School District Superintendent stated following the controversy.
“Facilitating and supporting every student’s achievement by BUILDING ON THEIR STRENGTHS, CULTURES, LANGUAGES, and experiences to create new successes. MULTILINGUALISM and MULTICULTURALISM as individual, community, national, and global assets in the 21st century. INTEGRITY AND COMMUNITY based on trust and the common purpose that empower individuals and communities.”
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