Three White teachers at a Long Island, New York middle school have come under fire after they displayed an image of nooses labeled “back to school necklaces” in a classroom.
The teachers were placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, said Alfred T. Taylor, school board president of the Roosevelt Union Free School District, according to NBC News.
Roosevelt Middle School’s students are predominantly Black and Hispanic, per reports, and the picture was part of a large collage that featured the words “ha” and “#yes.”
Taylor said the teachers could lose their jobs because they exhibited “conduct unbecoming of a teacher” and could lose their teaching license. He added that the community has been divided over the incident because some do not understand the racial significance of a noose.
“When you have half the community saying, ‘This is an atrocity,’ and then you have another half defending it saying, ‘Oh, it was supposed to be a joke,’ that’s an easy way for something to get lost in translation,” said Taylor, who’s Black.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said the picture was “undoubtedly racist.” She added, “A clear message needs to be sent that there is simply no place in our schools and in our society for this type of racist, hateful and insensitive imagery.”