PALMDALE (CBSLA) — L.A. County educators photographed posing with a noose are facing possible disciplinary action following the completion of a months-long independent investigation into the incident.
Parents at Summerland Elementary thought the saga was over as a new school year brought four new first grade teachers and a new principal after the former five were found posing with a noose inside the school last spring.
Sterling Rodriguez has a son in first grade this year. She was worried he would end up in one of their classrooms.
“If you’re teaching children it’s OK to hold up a noose and laugh about it then you have some serious ethic an moral issues,” Rodriguez said.
All five Palmdale School District employees were placed on administrative leave in May; their positions have since been filled. On Friday, the independent investigator hired to look into the incident gave his report to the school board.
According to the report, the independent investigator found no racial animus in the photo with the noose. It found that the teachers found the noose already made in a classroom used for storage and attempted to make a joke about the long school year and possibly needing to hang themselves before the end of the year.
A Facebook page back in the spring claimed a photo of the teachers was taken to celebrate the guilty verdicts and death sentence of a former student’s caregivers. Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was in Jennifer Garcia’s class. The teacher can be seen on the far left of the photo. Fernandez was attending Summerland when he was tortured and then beaten to death. Garcia testified against his parents during their murder trials. The child’s mother was sentenced to life in prison; her boyfriend received the death penalty.
The report found the photo was not related to the sentencing, however.
Now that the investigation is over, the school board will decide the fate of the educators.
Feelings in the community are mixed.
“Personally, I say fire them!” Rodriguez said.
“I don’t want anyone to lose their job,” another woman. “They were great teachers.”
Summerland Elementary’s principal resigned over the incident. The teachers remain on paid administrative leave until the school board recommends what action should be taken.