Education

A noose was hung at a North Texas school, and parents say the district tried to hide it

A noose was found tied around a staircase at Weatherford High School in early December. The photo was posted online on Wednesday.
A noose was found tied around a staircase at Weatherford High School in early December. The photo was posted online on Wednesday. Courtesy

A photo surfaced Wednesday of a noose that was tied from a staircase at Weatherford High School.

Parents said the Weatherford School District did not tell parents about the incident, which happened in December, and that the school tried to hide what happened.

On Wednesday, Weatherford School District posted a statement on its website in response to the photo:

“Weatherford ISD is aware of a photo of an inappropriate incident that was posted on social media today showing a noose hanging from the upper level outside of the Durant Auditorium at Weatherford High School,” the statement said. “This photo is from an incident that occurred in early December. The student that was involved was immediately identified and consequences were enacted according to the WISD Student Code of Conduct.”

A spokeswoman with the school said the district does not know the origin of the photo or why it surfaced on Wednesday.

Karen Smith, who has lived in Weatherford for 11 years, said she and other parents are not satisfied with the way the district handled the situation.

“There are a lot of us that this scares the hell out of us,” Smith said. “This is not funny. We have an all-white school board. They don’t get it. It doesn’t affect them, so they think it’s child’s play.”

According to 2016 census data, Weatherford’s population is 82 percent white.

Smith said her son, who is biracial, used to attend Weatherford High School. When he was a sophomore, he told his mom he did not want to attend the school anymore because he did not feel safe. She transferred him to another school in Euless.

“I dealt with the racism that goes on here. There are just no consequences at all,” Smith said. “Weatherford has been known for pushing things under the rug; they don’t want bad press. They don’t want anyone to know this happens at their school.”

A Weatherford district spokeswoman said the noose was hung after the school day ended and was discovered immediately.

“Weatherford ISD’s first value is to value and respect all students, employees, parents, partners and our community,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “We have several processes in place to emphasize this core value including anti-bullying and a new program that was started this year called Core Essentials.”

Another parent, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the lack of action sends a message to students of color at the school.

“It’s telling kids they’re not wanted in the community,” she said. “It’s like telling the kids of color ‘you don’t matter to us.’”

Smith said the student who hung the noose was given in-school suspension. She said the punishment was “a slap on the wrist” and the school board needs accountability.

“(Students) need to feel safe. How can they when someone is hanging a noose? How do you deal with that?” she said. “We have to take these things seriously. We have to teach these kids this is not acceptable.”

The other parent agreed and said she felt the school was trying to hide the incident.

“The counselors told kids to erase the photos on their phone. So they’re trying to hide it,” she said. “If it wasn’t put on Facebook, we would never know about it. It was a cover-up.”

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
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