A school district in Long Island, New York, is under fire after a collage allegedly displayed at a middle school depicted two nooses and labeled them “back to school necklaces.”
Pastor Arthur Mackey Jr. shared a photo of the display board to Facebook after he said he received it from a teacher within the school system, according to CNN. In a caption for the photo, he alleges that three teachers at Roosevelt Middle School are pictured in the collage alongside the noose photos, and that the collage was hung up in a teacher’s classroom.
The photo shows the nooses surrounded by stickers that say “#yes” and “ha,” as well as a smiley face. The nooses appear below what appears to be a Google search bar with the phrase: “back to school necklaces.”
As of Monday, the post had been shared over 547 times on Facebook.
In a brief statement on their website, the school district said they were “aware” of the incident and added that “action” was taken, though the statement did not specify what that action was.
“The Roosevelt School District is aware of the inappropriate conduct at the Roosevelt Middle School,” the statement read. “The Board of Education was made aware of this incident on Thursday, February 7, 2019, an investigation was immediately initiated and appropriate action taken.”
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“The Board of Education has zero tolerance for the display of racially offensive images,” the statement added.
“District administration is unable to comment further, as this is a personnel matter,” ended the statement, adding that anyone with more questions is encouraged to call the superintendent’s office.
Marnie Hazelton, Roosevelt Union Free School District Superintendent, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for further comment.
According to News12 Long Island, the Roosevelt School District said “appropriate action” was been taken against three teachers at Roosevelt Middle School for the racially offensive photo.
“When I heard about it, I said that this is outrageous,” Mackey told CNN. “The majority of students are minority students, African-American and Hispanic. For the image to be on the wall… is totally unacceptable.”
According to the New York State Education Department, Roosevelt Middle School has a student body that is 55 percent Hispanic or Latino and 44.6 percent black or African-American. The statistics are based on their 2017-18 class, which had 453 students.
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“We have a great school superintendent, school board president and school board and we all believe in our hearts they are going to do the right thing,” Mackey added.
“It’s probably just a joke, it probably had nothing to do with African-Americans… but at the same time, they could still draw that connection,” community member Savitri Lekhram told News12 Long Island.
“I’m just glad my kids are out of there right now,” Roosevelt resident Yvette Hudson told News12. “I was very upset about it.”
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