Education

4 students to be punished for hanging teddy bear from noose at high school

Vandals hung a teddy bear from a noose at Wakefield High School on Tuesday and damaged the football stadium and baseball field in what principal Malik Bazzell called a “deeply offensive” act. Before the bear was removed, many students and staff saw it and a photo was circulating on social media.
Vandals hung a teddy bear from a noose at Wakefield High School on Tuesday and damaged the football stadium and baseball field in what principal Malik Bazzell called a “deeply offensive” act. Before the bear was removed, many students and staff saw it and a photo was circulating on social media.

Four Wakefield High School students are facing disciplinary action after an investigation determined they were responsible for hanging a teddy bear from a noose at the North Raleigh school on Tuesday.

An investigation revealed that the students hung both the teddy bear and a sign saying “Make Wakefield Tripp again #smartlunch,” according to Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman.

She said initial disciplinary action has been determined against the four students, but she declined to give specifics or name the students, citing federal student privacy laws. School leaders are still working to determine final disciplinary action, Luten said.

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Luten also said the school resource officer from the Raleigh Police Department is investigating whether criminal charges will be filed. In addition to the sign and the teddy bear, which was dressed as Santa Claus, school officials say there was vandalism at the football stadium and baseball field.

A police report shows that officers are investigating possible charges of burglary, trespassing and damage to property.

The sign apparently referred to some students’ desire for former principal Tripp Crayton to return to the school. Malik Bazzell, who is black, replaced Crayton, who is white, as principal in 2015.

Before the bear and sign were removed Tuesday morning, many students and staff saw it and a photo was circulating on social media. Bazzell and Wake school leaders both denounced the incident.

“Let me be clear: This was an offensive act that has no place in our school,” Bazzell said in the statement sent Tuesday to Wakefield families. “The imagery is deeply offensive and everyone in our school community should be appalled.”

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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