A California principal and four teachers have been placed on administrative leave after an image circulated showing them smiling as they posed with a noose.
Linda Brandt, the principal of Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, reportedly shared a photograph of showed four teachers smiling as they posed with a rope tied into a noose.
After the photo leaked, another emerged of a noose hanging from a wall within the school.
While some suspect the photo may be have been a 'back-to-school necklaces' – an insider joke among educators that suggests they want to kill themselves just thinking about returning to their job after the school break – the picture has been slammed as insensitive or outright racist by others.
All the teachers, and Brandt, have since been suspended. One of the educators did not have her contract renewed prior to the scandal breaking.
'They had the audacity to show up today,' Shaka Phillipps, a former teacher, administrator, and educational consultant, told Yahoo Lifestyle as she protested them still having their jobs Thursday. 'The integrity of the school is completely compromised. To the black community, a noose is a weapon, a symbol of slavery and lynching.'
Her niece attends the school and she said she is 'now questioning the education every student of color has received in this class'.
The older brother a student at the school explained how let him know the image is an offensive reminder of a time when slavery was prevalent among African Americans. 'I showed her the picture of her teacher and of someone hanging from a tree,' Randle Jr. told Yahoo Lifestyle. 'She's sad and shocked that her teacher would hold a torture device.'
Teacher Michele Lemaire opined a 'lack of people of color' teaching at Summerwind is a 'huge issue'.
She said a third of the students there are black and another third Hispanic but there are only a few black teachers.
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Linda Brandt, the principal of Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, California was suspended Wednesday after she reportedly shared the photo in an email to all teachers early this month.