Four teachers and a principal have been placed on leave after a photo of the educators posing with what appears to be a noose circulated on email and social media.
The circumstances around the origin of the noose at Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale and the response afterward are under investigation.
The photo shows four teachers smiling and holding a noose and was shared online without caption or context. Some parents who learned about the image said it was taken and distributed by the school’s principal, longtime educator Linda Brandts.
The Palmdale School District, which is investigating the incident, was not immediately available for comment but issued a statement:
“I am appalled that this incident occurred,” Supt. Raul Maldonado said. “I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the district believe[s] in the same values the Promise upholds. We will not allow the hurtful actions of a few hold back our district’s pledge to do right by our community.”
Outcry among parents and others in the community followed the discovery of the photo. Breyson Clemmons, a parent at the school, told the Antelope Valley Press that she kept her 10-year-old daughter home from school afterward.
“We are disgusted. Absolutely disgusted,” Clemmons said. “We drop our kids off with the idea that we are sending them to a culturally competent institution for learning. We think that we’re sending them to a school; they’re safe. Never do we think we’re sending them to a plantation where they got nooses hanging up, and holding on to nooses. Taking pictures and smiling, where’s the humor?”
There has been a dramatic increase in hate incidents in grades K-12 across the country, said Cyndi Silverman, the Anti-Defamation League’s director for the Santa Barbara and Tri-Counties region.