3 teachers on leave following display of noose images labeled ‘back to school necklaces’

Part of a collage of photos displayed inside Roosevelt Middle School in Long Island, N.Y. (Photo11: Pastor Arthur L. Mackey Jr.)

Three middle school teachers are on paid administrative after displaying two noose images in the classroom labeled as “back to school necklaces.”

The images were part of a larger collage that was in one of the classrooms at Roosevelt Middle School in Long Island, New York. The words, “ha ha” and “#yes” were featured by the nooses.

The Roosevelt Union Free School District is continuing to investigate the incident. Still unknown is who made the collage and how long it was displayed. 

Alfred T. Taylor, Roosevelt Union Free School District school board president, told NBC News the “racially offensive images” have divided the community. 

“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, an African-American.

Calls for firings

The white teachers instruct in a school with a student body that is 55 percent Hispanic or Latino and 44.6 percent black or African-American, according to the New York State Education Department.

One teacher on leave has taught at the district for 20 years, the other two teachers have taught within the district for two or three years, Taylor told NBC, and said the teachers could be fired for conduct unbecoming a teacher and lose their teaching licenses. 

Several people have called for the the dismissal of the teacher or teachers responsible, including Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen.

“This imagery that was on display in a Roosevelt Middle School classroom is undoubtedly racist and should not be tolerated in our Town, or any other community,” Gillen said in a statement. “The imagery is also deeply insensitive and troubling to anyone with mental health issues and those contemplating suicide.”

Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton also weighed in saying, “A middle school on Long Island displayed two nooses with the tag ‘back to school necklaces.’ It’s more than ‘racially offensive.’ It’s racist and sickening.”

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