Representatives from the NAACP’s Mississippi offices are calling for a federal investigation into an alleged hate crime that took place between high school students earlier this month.
According to the NAACP, white students at Stone County High School, located in the town of Wiggins, MS, tossed a noose around the neck of a black classmate, and “yanked backward.” Local station WMTW reported that the assault took place on October 13. The allegedly targeted student is reportedly a football player.
According to Wiggins’ government website, the community of just under 4,400 residents (as of 2010—the most recent data available) is nearly 65% white, and just over 33% African American.
NAACP spokesperson Ayana Kinnel told me in a statement that the students responsible for the alleged act were not expelled. This would seemingly contradict the Stone County school district’s policy that being in possession of anything “considered to be dangerous and capable of causing bodily harm,” or committing a “violent act on school property,” is grounds for immediate expulsion.
The NAACP claims that the boy’s family was told they could not be notified of any disciplinary action taken against the alleged perpetrators of the assault, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. However, FERPA states that schools can, in fact, disclose that information “to the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense concerning the final results of a disciplinary hearing with respect to the alleged crime.”
Now, they’re asking for federal authorities to launch a hate crime investigation into the incident.
“Allowing students to commit blatant hate crimes without severe consequences, sends a message to students that their safety and well being are not valuable enough to be protected,” the group said.
Representatives from both Stone County High School, as well as the Stone County school district, declined to comment on the incident.
This is just the latest example of nooses being used in apparently racially-motivated incidents on school grounds. In 2012, a black student in North Carolina was reportedly threatened with a noose made out of string with one classmate telling her, “Look what he made for you.” That same year, a Wisconsin teenager was suspended after placing a small noose on the desk of one of his high school’s three black students. And this year, a former teacher filed a lawsuit against the Oakland, CA school district after finding a rope tied into a noose on her desk in 2014.