4 students ID'd in Wakefield High School noose incident

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WCPSS has a racial equity plan but has endured a slew of recent racially charged incidents.

Four Wakefield High School students have been identified in connection with a black teddy bear found hanging by a noose from the building next to a sign that read "Make Wakefield TRIPP again #smartlunch."

The Wake County Public School System confirmed to ABC11 on Wednesday that the four had been identified and the school resource officer is investigating to determine any criminal charges.

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On Tuesday, students told ABC11 the sign was in reference to bringing back their former white principal who was replaced in 2015 and an hour-long lunch break that was done away with.

It was quickly removed, but many staff and students saw it, and a photo quickly spread on social media.

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The school's principal, Malik Bazzell, said the school's stadium and baseball field were also vandalized.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM PRINCIPAL MALIK BAZZELL

"I'm saddened by this incident at Wakefield High School. It is not right, and I would hope that the Wakefield school community of staff, parents, and students will be diligent about being sure it isn't repeated," said school board member Roxie Cash. "I know this community is made up of good people. I'm counting on them as well as our school system to say it's wrong and to do better on race relations."

"Anytime you see things like that it's painful, it's disheartening. It's not what the school system stands for," said school board member Dr. Jim Martin.

It's the latest in a string of racially charged incidents in Wake County Schools since March.



Earlier this month the district rolled out a plan to fight racism within the school system.

As part of this year's budget request, WCPSS wants $488,000 to expand the Office of Equity Affairs, race equity training for all secondary principals and counselors and school-based equity teams.

Martin said the initiative is one of the district's top priorities at a critical time for WCPSS, but there's no quick fix.

"I think Wake County Public School System has a very deep commitment as a school system to fighting racism. Unfortunately, we live in a community, and I'm not talking just about Wake County I'm talking about our greater community, where racism and hate is strong," he said. "We're still hoping that we'll be able to convince the county commissioners that this is a necessary work for the Wake County Public Schools System. Unfortunately, you can't address these issues that you know need to be addressed if you don't have people to do it."

County commissioners have until June 30 to consider the school district's budget proposal.

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