Teachers at Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale shared a photo smiling and holding a noose last week, causing community outrage and resulting only in paid leave for the teachers involved.
What We Know…
- The photo was taken by the principal of the school, who has been placed on paid suspension along with the four teachers in the photo while the district’s special counsel conducts an investigation into the nature of the photo.
- Teachers at this elementary school were involved in a nationally horrifying child abuse case that led to the death of Gabriel Fernandez in 2013. Gabriel was tortured and murdered by his mother and mother’s boyfriend.
- The photo has been explained as a commemoration of the anniversary of the guilty verdict of Gabriel’s parents; one of the teachers in the photo testified in Gabrial’s trial. Gabriel’s mother was sentenced to life in prison while her boyfriend was sentenced to the death penalty.
- The school district wrote in a statement to The Antelope Valley Times that “We will not tolerate this type of behavior in our schools.”
- Community members have called for the investigation of the photo and have participated in school district board meetings and town halls to discuss the controversial photo. Many community members have expressed frustration with the racially loaded symbol of a noose.
Parents and community members feel paid leave is not a substantial enough punishment for such an upsetting photo.