A Southern California school district has placed four teachers on administrative leave after a photo surfaced showing the group smiling as one held a small noose in a classroom.
Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado said in a statement this week that he is appalled and has also placed the principal of Summerwind Elementary School on leave pending an investigation.
"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," he said in the statement posted on the district's Facebook page.
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The district, which is investigating the intentions of the teachers, did not identify the teachers.
The school's website lists the principal as Linda Brandts.
A telephone listing for her could not be found.
Two African American women said they were pulling their children out of the school.
Tierra Harris emotionally explained to her daughter why she was being removed from the school.
"Do you know what they use that for? The use that to hang African American people," she said.
Breyon Clemons said she was pulling her child out for good.
"My child will not walk onto this plantation, absolutely not," she said.
Maldonado, the superintendent, said the situation is not a reflection of the community.
"We don't tolerate that type of behavior in our community, in our school district. We hold our employees to the highest standards with high expectations," he said.
Palmdale is a city of more than 150,000 in the high desert region of northern Los Angeles County.