An attorney for a Capistrano Unified School District charter school claims an incident involving an eighth-grade teacher who had the only African-American student in her class put a noose around his neck has been blown out of proportion, but the boy's mother counters this is no isolated incident of racism involving the instructor.
Renee Schultz, the teacher, has been placed on administrative leave while officials at Oxford Preparatory Academy in Mission Viejo investigate the mother's complaint. While Oxford is a Capo Unified charter school, the district does not have oversight over it.
On a recent field trip to Riley's Farm, a working farm in Yucaipa that recreates historical events from the Civil War, the mother claims Schultz volunteered her son for the noose reenactment. "My child was the only child in his classroom who did not volunteer but was called up," the mom reportedly told Mission Viejo Patch.
But Oxford representative Erika Schulte has informed multiple media outlets no child was singled out as some of Schultz's other students also took part in the demonstration, leading the school's attorney Keith Fink to tell Patch's Penny Arévalo, "The story is an outright fabrication of the mother and gross exaggeration and a race card play."
Fink got some backing from Riley's Farm, which released a long statement that claims its demonstrations never involve placing a noose around a student's neck–only on top of their heads–and alleges the African-American boy was stopped by a farm worker from pulling the noose down around his neck.
The boy's mom counters this is not the only racial incident involving Schultz and her son, who is was in his first year of studies at Oxford and who has since left to do independent study.
The teacher told the boy's class he would not appear in their school photo because "he's as black as the wall," the mother alleged. Another time, Schultz pointed at a short, heavyset black man and said he must be the boy's father, the mom claims.
Meanwhile, the mother has praised Capo Unified district officials with taking her concerns seriously and damned Oxford Prep for doing the complete opposite. Schulte has been quick to note Oxford suspended Schultz within 24 hours of receiving the parental complaint.
The Riley's Farm incident has drawn concern from OC Human Relations, whose CEO Rusty Kennedy joined the boy's family at a recent meeting with school officials.
"Hangings, like cross burnings, are incredible symbols of hate and bigotry and oppression of African Americans," Kennedy is quoted as telling Patch. "They are symbols that have huge meaning and were designed to terrorize and subjugate people. … In this case it appears a complete lack of understanding of how powerful and how hurtful those symbols are, is really, I think, what we're talking about."