Parents in Palmdale, Calif., are calling for a principal and several teachers to be fired after a photo surfaced showing them laughing, smiling and posing with a noose that was reportedly discovered on campus.
Employees at Summerwind Elementary School told Fox 11 that principal Linda Brandts—who is looking to be the local school board’s next superintendent—sent two photos with the noose in them to all staff in an email that contained no message. One photo showed the noose hanging up in an office and the other showed four teachers posed with the noose, laughing, smiling and pointing at it. Brandts allegedly took the photos herself.
While the student body at Summerwind is about two-thirds black and Latino, the teaching staff does not reflect the population being served.
Michelle Lemaire, a teacher at the school, told Fox 11 that there are only a few black teachers at the school and the lack of teachers of color is a big issue that is not being addressed.
Breyon Clemmons, a mother who has put one daughter through Summerwind and now has a younger daughter attending, told the news station that racism is prevalent at the school and she has had to address it a number of times with teachers.
“I’ve requested that my kid be taken out of one classroom because that teacher, in particular, has shown prejudice and discrimination against my kid and when I requested the black teacher I got grief for that,” Clemmons said.
The Palmdale School District’s current superintendent, Raul Maldonado, sent the following statement to Fox 11 News:
This afternoon it has been 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 has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the matter.
The Antelope Valley Times reports that four teachers have also been placed on administrative leave over the photo.
Denise Royal, a black mother with three children at the school, told the AV Times that she was disgusted by the picture and wanted to remove her children from the school after recognizing her daughter’s teacher among those posed in the photo.
“That’s my daughter’s first-grade teacher, Miss Campos, in the picture—all giggling and laughing,” Royal said. “I want the principal fired, point blank period!”
The Palmdale School District posted a statement from Maldonado on its Facebook page Thursday that said in part “... I am appalled that this incident occurred. I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the District believe 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.”