Royal Oak student removed after noose incident

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Royal Oak Middle School student has admitted to placing a noose in a school bathroom and has been removed from the school until “further notice,” the district superintendent said Sunday.

Students at Royal Oak Middle School yelled “build the wall” as it was captured on video.

“At Royal Oak Schools, the safety of our students is our No. 1 priority,” said Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin in a letter on the school district’s website to parents and school staff. “At Royal Oak Schools, we will not tolerate intimidation, threats, harassment or bullying.”

A police investigation into the matter is continuing, said Lewis-Lakin. The noose was found hanging Friday in a bathroom stall at the middle school.

The discovery of the noose is the second incident with racial or ethnic overtones at the school this month. A day after the election of Donald Trump as president, some students at the school were videotaped chanting in the lunchroom “build that wall,” referencing a controversial campaign promise by candidate Trump to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. The incidents are one of many that have been alleged across the United States since the general election.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has reported that more than three times as many alleged ethnic or harassment cases in the 10 days through Friday since the election.

In addition, more than 701 incidents nationwide have been reported between Nov. 9-16, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which did not independently verify all incidents. The center also recorded 30 such incidents in Michigan, though it’s unclear if those are the same 30 incidents reported by the Civil Rights Department.

At Royal Oak Schools, Lewis-Lakin said he plans to meet with the school’s principal and will conduct meetings with each grade at the middle school “to reiterate and reinforce our school’s strict policies on intimidation, threats, harassment and bullying.”

The superintendent added: “We will remind our students that inappropriate words or actions will be taken seriously and carry serious consequences. We will also have additional counselors and social workers to support students affected by this incident.”

The school will also deploy an additional school safety officer to the middle school.

The district and the Royal Oak Police Department are conducting separate investigations, officials said.

Lewis-Lakin urged school staff, students and their families to don “spirit wear” and school colors on Tuesday “to demonstrate our continued commitment to working together as one community to ensure a positive, inclusive learning environment for all students.”


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