A Wisconsin student has been suspended for giving his black classmate a small noose and a KKK symbol.
The 15-year-old girl who was given the noose has not been named, but is now afraid to return to school, according to a report from the Pioneer Press. Sarah Hitzeman, the girl’s foster mother, criticized the handling of the incident at Baldwin-Woodville High School, where her daughter is one of the three black children in a student body of 450.
“She has been experiencing racial comments since joining our family her eighth-grade year,” Hitzeman wrote in an email shared with the Star Tribune. “Her freshman year started out with students calling her ‘Big Mocha’ and making fun of her hair and breasts.”
Hitzeman explained that the Dec. 13 incident was the culmination of physical and emotional bullying targeting her daughter. Principal Eric Russell acknowledged the situation, telling the Pioneer Press that the boy intended the items to be a joke or prank. Along with a miniature noose, a small item made to resemble a Klansmen’s hood was left on the girl’s desk. Other minority students questioned by Russell did not report any additional bullying, but the principal maintained that the school will handle the situation.
“Our main goal is to make all students comfortable, safe and happy here at school,” he said. “And so if somebody isn’t, we need to address it … and what we’ll do about it depends on what we find.”
The boy will return to school on Monday, having served seven days of suspension before and after the school’s Christmas vacation. His parents apologized on their son’s behalf, and Hitzeman is satisfied with their response.
Speaking through the Pioneer Press and an email sent to a disadvantaged youth advocate, Hitzeman made it clear that her issues lie with the school, and its lack of action toward racism.
“To have a school that has no tolerance for bullying, but a lot of tolerance for racial issues isn’t right,” Hitzeman said. “I want my daughter to understand this isn’t OK, and she doesn’t have to accept it.”