NAACP asks why noose case at RHAM High School not investigated as hate crime

(Generic graphic of school lockers)
(Generic graphic of school lockers)(MGN)
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 6:20 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2022 at 12:28 PM EST
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HEBRON, CT (WFSB) - The superintendent for Regional School District 8 said a staff member discovered what appeared to be a noose hanging in the boys locker room on Saturday.

The Willimantic chapter of the NAACP held a news conference on Tuesday at noon during which is asked why the case has not been investigated as a hate crime:

The Willimantic chapter of the NAACP asked why the investigation into a noose in a high school locker room was not being investigated as a hate crime.

The staff member immediately removed it and alerted school administration, superintendent Colin McNamara said.

The district reached out to the Hebron Police Department and its resident state trooper to initiate a possible hate crime investigation.

They have been collaborating with both the Major Crimes Unit and Hate Crimes Unit from the Connecticut State Police on the investigation.

McNamara said that district staff are working with authorities to find the responsible individuals or individual.

The district said it created a phone number where anyone with information on the incident could anonymously report it to a voice mail system.

Anyone with information was encouraged to call 860-228-5319.

McNamara said the district was disgusted by the news.

Words cannot express the feeling of disgust that overcame me when I learned about this situation. There is no place in the RHAM community for this behavior or the beliefs associated with it. In my short time working in the district, I have witnessed RHAM staff members working to foster an inclusive school environment for students and families and demonstrate an understanding of the importance of diversity and equity. While it would be naïve to believe that racism and bigotry do not exist in our society, please know that words or actions spreading racism, discrimination, or hateful ideologies will not be tolerated in our schools. RHAM is committed to creating and maintaining an educational environment that is physically, emotionally, and intellectually safe and thus free from forms of harassment and discrimination.

Colin McNamara, Superintendent for Regional School District 8

The district provided counseling for staff and students following the discovery.

In a statement to parents, the district said it will use this incident as a learning opportunity.

We are not in this alone, as similar events have unfortunately been permeated across our state and our nation. What is important to focus on now is how we move forward, and I have spoken with the town leaders and school district Superintendents in Andover, Hebron, and Marlborough to discuss next steps. Each of them shares my concerns about today’s event, as well as the belief that our communities need to use it to come together and address this issue through education, training, and community conversations. As educators, we are trained to recognize learning opportunities when they present themselves, regardless of how difficult or painful those learning opportunities may be. Our goal moving forward is to ensure that members of the RHAM community learn from this experience and that an event such as this never happens again. I appreciate your support for our students and community.

Colin McNamara, Superintendent for Regional School District 8