Photo shows elementary teachers smiling while holding noose

PALMDALE, California -- Four elementary school teachers seen in a photo smiling while holding a noose are on administrative leave.

The picture taken in a classroom at Summerwind Elementary School is creating a fire storm of controversy. An outraged parent claims the noose was hung up on school property in early May and also says someone took video of the teachers laughing and joking about the noose.

Some parents are so hurt by the image, they pulled their children out of the school on Thursday. One parent was in tears, even going as far as to explain to her daughter why she was taking her out of the school.

"Do you know what they use that for? They use that to hang African-American people -- that's what they do -- and kill them. They still do it to this day. I don't want you going here because I don't want you to feel like that," shared parent Tierra Harris.

Breyan Clemmons pulled her child out of the school not only for Thursday but for good.

"It hurts. It absolutely hurts me to the core," she said. "It's disgusting and I'm outraged, and I want to see some action and not just administrative leave."

Raul Maldonado, the superintendent of the schools in the Palmdale School District, said all four teachers have been placed on administrative leave, as well as the principal of the school, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"It makes us angry because I know it's not a reflection of our community," Maldonado said. "We don't tolerate that type of behavior in our community and in our school district. We hold our employees to the highest standards with high expectations."

The school district says it is investigating exactly what intentions the teachers had in taking the photo, and who is responsible for bringing the noose onto the school campus. Along with outraged parents, the larger community is speaking out.

"Even if it was a prank, it does not belong in our school system," said Bishop and activist Henry Hearns.

The union representing the teachers has yet to issue a comment.
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