Students in noose incident expelled for entire school year

Two white male students suspended for allegedly making a noose out of rope and dropping it at the feet of two black female students will not return to Hardaway High School this year.

The students were expelled for the remainder of the year following a Muscogee County School District tribunal hearing Thursday and will not be allowed to attend a county public school this year, said Valerie Fuller, the school district's communications director of communications for the district. The hearing lasted more than two hours.

The students were first suspended for 10 days after the Nov. 6 incident during a gym class. The panel of educators determined that they had violated rules under the school district's Behavior Code and Discipline Policy, Fuller said.

The three-member panel found that the pair had violated rules Nos. 1, 5 and 12: Rule No. 1 deals with disruption and interference with school; rule No. 5 covers verbal assault, physical assault or disruptive conduct by a student; and rule No. 12 covers acts of misconduct.

The students have the right to appeal the decision to the full nine-member Muscogee County school board. A Columbus Police report was filed under harassment/intimidation on the day of the incident. That report was later revised to a non-criminal school incident.

The boys told police they made what's called a painter's knot, which resembles a noose out of rope. When one of the boys told the other it looked like a noose, they said it was thrown to the floor, police said in the report.

The girls, however, said it was dropped at their feet and one boy said something to the effect of: "Here you go."Deputy Superintendent Robin Pennock said Thursday neither she nor Superintendent John Phillips attended the hearing. "We are just going to let the statement of the school District stand," Pennock said.The tribunal was made up of three administrators and or teachers from other high schools in the Muscogee County School District.

A day after the noose incident, Phillips stated, "Obviously we are not going to allow that behavior in our school system for one minute. We obviously take this very serious and will not tolerate any act of this nature. Whether the intent was in a joking way or not, that is absolutely not acceptable in our school district."

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