Officials Investigate Noose Incident at California Elementary School

A rope resembling a noose was found hanging from a fence at a California elementary school, parents say.

The rope was found in the early morning of August 21 on the Chabot Elementary school campus in Oakland, California, KTVU reported. The school reportedly removed the rope before students arrived on campus and school officials are trying to figure out the motivation behind the placement of the rope. Keita Jones, a parent whose child goes to the school, told KTVU that the rope was used for intimidation.

"Most nooses are ropes. So it looked like a rope but it also looked like it was used to send a message or for some sort of intimidation," Jones told the news station.

The North Star reached out to the Oakland Unified School District for comment on the matter but did not hear back in time for publication. In a statement to KTVU, the district’s spokesman, John Sasaki, told the news station it had contacted police and they are investigating.

"We certainly hope that's not what it was; if it was, we're going to deal with it."

An email Chabot Elementary School’s principal sent to parents, obtained by the news station, reads, "The way it was placed could have been a coincidence, but it also could have been indicative of something more disturbing. It was easy to see the rope as a message that harkens back to some of our nation’s darkest history.”

Another parent from the district, Courtney Jones said that she believes the email was vague.

"I feel like the email is trying to not really acknowledge the issue," Jones told KTVU. "There are several points in the email where she refers to it as a rope. If you look at the issue it's clearly not a rope."

School officials told the news station they have additional staff on campus to discuss the incident with students. They also plan to address it during a meeting next week.

This is not the first time this year where a rope resembling a noose was found on school grounds. In July, Stanford University officials said they were investigating an incident after summer camp counselors found a noose hanging from a bush on campus. Cheron Perkins, a medical student at the university and an advisor from the program, told KNTV that many of the students attending the summer camp are in high school and are minorities.

“My immediate thought was nothing but fear because I’d never seen a noose,” Perkins previously said. “I was just distraught. I got on Southwest and started looking for a plane ticket.”

The university classified the incident as a “suspicious circumstance,” but said it could be reclassified as a hate crime pending the investigation, KRON previously reported. The noose was removed from the campus. In a statement to The Mercury News, university officials said the noose was not welcome on its campus.

“While we await further conclusions from the investigation, we feel it is important to state that a noose is recognized as a symbol of violence and racism directed against African American peoples,” the statement read. “Such a symbol has no place on our campus.”

A similar incident occurred in May after a principal and four teachers from a California elementary school were placed on administrative leave after a photo of the teachers posing and smiling with a noose went viral.

The racist photo was taken in a classroom at Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale, California. It was shared on social media without a caption by the elementary school’s principal, Linda Brandts. The photo sparked outrage among parents and caused some parents to pull their children out of school. In a statement following the incident, Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado said an investigation was underway.

“I am appalled that this incident occurred. I am committed to the Palmdale Promise’s values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism, and I know that most of the district believe in the same values the Promise upholds,” Maldonado previously wrote on the district’s Facebook page. “We will not allow the hurtful actions of a few hold back our district’s pledge to do right by our community.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.