Four educators who smiled for a photo with a noose are all suspended, along with their principal, who reportedly shared it in a mass email.
Linda Brandt, the principal of Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, California, allegedly emailed the photo to her staff, attaching a second image of the noose hanging in an office, according to Los Angeles television station Fox 11. Other parents found the photo on Instagram.
Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Yesterday, it was brought to the Palmdale School District’s attention that an incident involving the discovery of a noose and possibly inappropriate responses to that discovery occurred at Summerwind Elementary School. The Principal and the personnel involved in this matter have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the matter. We will follow process and procedures to conduct the investigation.”
According to Fox 11, Brandt is in consideration to become the next district superintendent.
Shaka Phillipps, a former teacher, administrator, and educational consultant, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she pulled her 6-year-old niece from Summerwind on Thursday morning, shocked that all four teachers had resumed their daily lessons, despite their alleged suspensions. “They had the audacity to show up today,” she says. “The integrity of the school is completely compromised. To the black community, a noose is a weapon, a symbol of slavery and lynching.”
Randy Randle, Jr., the founder of a non-profit organization called Pivotal Role which rewards children for earning outstanding report cards, explained the impact to his little sister, whose once-trusted teacher stands in the photo. “I showed her the picture of her teacher and of someone hanging from a tree,” Randle Jr. tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “She’s sad and shocked that her teacher would hold a torture device.”
Another parent named Darrin Harper told Fox 11 of Principal Brandt, “We want her gone from this school. And that’s just it. We want her out of her. I do, personally.”
Breyon Clemmons told Fox 11, “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,” she said.
A teacher named Michele Lemaire, told the news station that a mostly-white teaching staff is a “huge issue” at the school.
Phillips’s niece will stay home from Summerwind until the school enacts new policies and an appropriate discipline plan. She also wants assurance that her niece won’t be punished for missing school during the investigation.
“I’m now questioning the education that my niece and every student of color, has received in this class,” says Phillips.