Monday, October 31, 2016

NAACP demands federal probe after noose allegedly put on black student

JACKSON, Miss. -- The president of the Mississippi NAACP is demanding a federal hate crime investigation after the parents of a black high school student said as many as four white students put a noose around their son’s neck at school.
“No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck,” president Derrick Johnson said Monday during a news conference in Wiggins. “This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment.”

Johnson said the incident happened Oct. 13 near a locker room at Stone High School in Wiggins.
The group said in a statement that officials have mishandled the situation. The NAACP said no one has been charged with a crime, and the black student’s parents have not told of any punishment for the other students involved.
“They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal,” the NAACP said. “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.”
CBS Biloxi affiliate WLOX reports that, according to the Stone High Student Handbook, the superintendent has the authority to expel any students who commits an act of violence on campus.
The NAACP claims school officials told the victim’s mother they could not tell her about disciplinary actions because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Mississippi has struggled with a history of racial division. It is the last state that still incorporates the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag. In 2014, two out-of-state students at the University of Mississippi placed a noose on the campus’ statue of James Meredith, the black student who integrated Ole Miss in 1962. Both pleaded guilty to using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees. Neither attends the school anymore.
Names and ages of the students involved in the Stone County incident weren’t immediately released. The Stone County NAACP president, Robert James, said the black student is a football player.
According to a statement from the black student’s family, he returned to practice after the incident, Ayana Kinnel, spokeswoman for the civil rights group, said. 
The Stone County Sheriff’s Department provides officers at local schools and typically is the first to respond to incidents. Sheriff Mike Farmer didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and an email. Wiggins Police Chief Matt Barnett said his agency wasn’t notified.
Stone County High School Principal Adam Stone referred comment to Superintendent Inita Owen. She and school board attorney Sean Courtney didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said the state usually lets local districts handle student discipline.


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