After a photo of four smiling teachers holding a noose circulated online, parents are demanding the school's principal step down.
According to KTLA, the four educators seen in the now-viral photo teach at Summerwind Elementary. The school is located in Palmdale, California, a nearby Los Angeles suburb.
All four first-grade teachers captured in the photo are currently on administrative leave as the school district investigates. Summerwind Principal Linda Brandts was also suspended for her part as she took the photo.
"You hate them little Black babies. You hate them little Spanish babies. All them little minorities. You hate em!” Darrin Harper told Fox 11.
An email with two photos was sent to school staff earlier this month. The other photo showed the noose hanging in the office. Reports state Brandts was the person sharing the email containing the photos.
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“We want her gone from this school and that’s just it. We want her out of here. I do personally! I do,” Harper added. “Because I know what she about. The pictures prove it, that’s what she about and that’s what she allows to go on. So, she needs to go.”
The Los Angeles Times reports the photo could be connected to a tragic incident involving a student. One of the teachers in the controversial photo was Jennifer Garcia.
She taught 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in her first-grade class. The young student was tortured to death by his mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, and her partner, Isauro Aguirre, in 2013. Garcia allegedly reported signs of abuse before the boy’s murder but her calls for investigation into the matter went unanswered.
“They are evil,” Garcia said in testimony last June. Fernandez received a life sentence and Aguirre was sentenced to death for his part in the murder.
An authority within law enforcement suggested the photo was taken as an expression of joy at Aguirre's sentencing.
The student's cousin refuted the possibility.
“Do not tie that horrible picture with my cousin,” Emily Carranza told the publication.
Amid the scandal, other parents like Breyon Clemmon have come out against the school. She said there are many instances of racism at Summerwind. When she brought up an incident, her concerns were ignored.
"I’ve requested that my kid be taken out of one classroom because that teacher, in particular, has shown prejudice discrimination against my kid and when I requested the black teacher I got grief for that,” Clemmons said.
Palmdale School District Superintendent, Raul Maldonado released a statement last week stating the district will investigate.
“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.”
However, the issue becomes murkier for the district. Brandts is being considered to become the district's next superintendent.
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