Officials are investigating the incident, which has upset black and white parents alike, according to the television station KSDK.
At the entrance to the town of Wynne, a sign greets you that reads, “Welcome to the city with a smile,” but the actions of the JV players at Wynne Junior High School has not been met with many smiles.
“There was an incident in the ninth grade locker room,” said Superintendent Carl Easley. “Two students are being recommended for expulsion and five have been suspended from school.”
Easley said he is not allowed to release the details of the incident until a hearing is held, but family and friends of a 14-year-old African-American player claim white students tied a noose around his neck before practice last Monday and dragged him across the floor.
Easley said that while something did happen in the locker room, he disputed the story of the noose.
But a relative of the 14-year old boy, named Mickey, said it did indeed happen.
“Mickey says he was scared…he was terrified,” said Marlyl Light, who claims the boy had bruises around his neck.
“Mickey said that some boy came up behind him and picked him up and that’s when another boy put a rope around his neck.”
“We love Wynne, it’s a good school system. And sometimes we just mess up,” parent Benita South told KSDK.
Black and white parents alike are equally outraged by the incident, which evokes memories of the brutal practice of lynching that occurred in the South— although some parents were hesitant about being identified when interviewed by a television reporter from KSDK.
Police in Wynn have interviewed several dozen players who were in the locker room at the time of the incident, but police apparently have decided to let the school system conduct its investigation first.
An unidentified black parent disagreed with that decision, saying the students should be criminally charged.
The superintendent said staff members also may be disciplined for not properly supervising the boys.
“Kids at no time should be left unsupervised and we’re gonna have to revisit how we supervise students,” said Easley.
The school board will make a final decision about the expulsions.