Student who hung noose in Royal Oak school removed until further notice

- The Royal Oak student responsible for hanging a noose in the boy's bathroom has been removed from school and officials are working to stop similar behavior from happening again.

A student at Royal Oak Middle admitted to hanging a noose in the bathroom Friday. This comes just a week after video was taken at the school showing students in the lunch room chanting "build the wall."

"I think they reacted appropriately without trying to get this situation overblown," said Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison. "It's unfortunate that it started with the video that went viral. In my own personal opinion, I think it's middle school kids. Middle school kids do stupid stuff sometimes."

Shawn Lewis-Lakin, superintendent of Royal Oak Schools, sent out a statement Sunday to alert parents of the week ahead.

"At Royal Oak Schools, the safety of our students is our number one priority. An investigation by school personnel and the Royal Oak Police Department has identified a Royal Oak Middle School student who admitted to placing a noose inside the middle school bathroom on Friday. Effective immediately, the student responsible for the noose has been removed from the middle school until further notice. All relevant school policies and procedures are being followed and enforced. The Royal Oak Police investigation into this matter is continuing.

"At Royal Oak Schools, we will not tolerate intimidation, threats, harassment or bullying. Tomorrow, the middle school principal and I 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. 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. We will be deploying an additional school safety officer to our middle school as well.

"I am encouraging our dedicated staff, our students and our families to join me in wearing spirit wear and our 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."

On Monday, Lewis-Lakin and the middle school principal will conduct meetings with each grade to inform them that intimidation, threats, harassment and bullying will not be tolerated.

Royal Oak's mayor is urging parents to be mindful of what they say or do as behavior often starts at home.

"Try to keep your opinions -- of they're positive or negative or whatever -- try to keep them away from the kids," Ellison said. "Ask your kids how things are going. I have a granddaughter who is in middle school. I ask her how things are going and quite honestly she was upset because this is her school and it's embarrassing."

The ACLU has also been looking into that matter, and director Rod Monts claims he learned of more allegations where students have used racial slurs, including the n-word, towards fellow students of color.

"As we began to look into it, we found that there were other allegations of about harassment of students of color there and concerns about the climate. The students of color were harassed on a consistent basis that it became common place for them," Monts said.

Going forward, some parents, including Alicia Ramon, will be keeping a close eye on the school.

Her daughter recorded the video with students chanting build the wall.

"I'm hopeful and we are holding the district accountable," she said. "We're working with the district to ensure that not only this incident doesn't occur, but future ongoing incidents ... that those stop as well."

The superintendent says the district is investigating all of the allegations.

There will also be additional counselors and social workers to support students affected by incidents at the middle school.


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