Elementary School Principal and Four Teachers Placed on Administrative Leave for Photo with Noose

At Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, Calif., four first-grade teachers decided to smile and pose for a photo with a noose, and the principal, Linda Brandt, reportedly then shared it in a group email. The educators have been placed on administrative leave.

Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado said, in a statement posted on Facebook:

“Late afternoon (May 8) 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.”

Brandt, who is not pictured, allegedly emailed the photo to her staff at Summerwind, attaching an additional image of the noose hanging in an office. The subject line read: “Room 223 score.” 

Maldonado said he is appalled by the actions of the educators.

“As the Superintendent of Palmdale School District, I am appalled that this incident occurred,” Maldonado said. “I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the District believes 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.”

When the photo began circulating on social media on Thursday afternoon, parents of students at Summerwind were shocked and disgusted.

“It looks like a noose, a noose used to hang my ancestors from trees… Black people,” Denise Royal told The Antelope Valley Times. “That’s my daughter’s first-grade teacher, Miss Campos, in the picture – all giggling and laughing,”

“I want [the principal] fired, point blank period!” Royal said.

At Summerwind Elementary School, located 70 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, “minority enrollment is 90% of the student body (majority Hispanic), which is higher than the California state average of 76%,” according to Public School Review. The student: teacher ratio is 29:1, which is “higher than the California state level of 24:1.” And the school “placed in the bottom 50% of all schools in California for overall test scores for the 2015-16 school year.”

Community leaders are encouraging concerned parents and residents to attend the Palmdale School District Board meeting at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

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