Three students at Maryland's Eastern Technical High School, have been suspended after drawing a racially offensive picture involving President Barack Obama during class and posting a photo of it to Twitter, The Baltimore Sun reports.
According to Baltimore County police spokeswoman Cathy Batton, the image depicts three nooses hanging from the rafters of a building. Next to the ropes is a burning cross with three stick figures in pointed hats, a clear reference to the Ku Klux Klan. To the right is a grave marker with the name "Barack Obama" at the top, and under the president’s name appear two racial epithets.
Two students drew the picture during the end of a class period the morning of June 7, the day before school ended. According to Batton, their teacher was busy talking to several students about their final exam grades when another student told her about the drawing. By the time she went to go investigate, most of the images had been erased, Batton said.
A student in the class, however, had taken a photo of the drawing before it was erased and posted the image to Twitter, where it was seen by other students and eventually a parent, who emailed the photo to an assistant principal.
All three students involved in the dissemination of the picture have been suspended, with final disciplinary actions pending, according to Eastern Tech Principal Tom Evans. Batton says charges will not be filed against the students because the incident is not considered a hate crime, The Sun reports.
According to The Sun, Evans does not believe the racist display is indicative of the culture at his school, which boasts a 30 percent minority population of Asians, African Americans and Hispanics. He adds that the school will use the incident as a teaching opportunity next year, as it strives to be national model for diversity.
"The culture here is very positive. These kids all get along very well. This issue is the first time in my five years here that there has been any group targeted because of their race. We have no tolerance for this sort of thing," he said.
This is the second piece of student “artwork” to drum up controversy this month, as parents at Fresno’s Hamilton Elementary School took issue with a student-made sign depicting Jesus with a caption reading “I want you to kill all the infidels.” The poster was made by a seventh-grade student as part of an assignment during a history unit on the Crusades.
Some Florida students ignited outrage in February when two YouTube videos surfaced of shocking and racist rants by teen girls. The first was created by girls in Gainesville, while the second -- with the same disparaging sentiments against black students -- was recorded by girls in Lantana.
Just last week, Waterbury, Conn. math teacher Kathleen Pyles was placed on paid leave while school officials investigate allegations that she addressed a black student with a racist remark. She is accused of inappropriately calling a student "black boy" when she couldn't remember his name.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this article, the name of the high school was misidentified. It is Eastern Technical High School.