After three hours Wednesday evening, the Wynne Public Schools District decided to expel two student-athletes for the rest of the semester following a reported case of extreme bullying that involved a noose inside the high school ninth grade football team's locker room.
Before Wednesday's meeting, seven students were suspended by the school district.
MORE: 7 HS football players suspended in bullying incident
Reportedly the student-athletes on the Yellowjackets ninth grade football team attempted to place a noose around the neck of a fellow black football player inside the locker room before practice in late September.
Moments after the school board voted 4-1 to expel the two students for the semester, there was an uproar from the hundreds who attended. The family of the victim stormed out angrily after the announcement.
In the parking lot outside, chaos ensued as Wynne police told the upset crowd to leave the premises.
Many in attendance at the school board meeting hoped the students would be expelled for at least the entire school year and not a semester, which is what Superintendent Carl Easley had recommended.
"What happened to my son should never happen to anybody's child, and something should be did about this," said Cheryl Light, the victim's mother. "I refuse to accept this; not right, and it is racial. That's the way I feel about it."
She plans to fight for justice.
The hearings for the expelled students were closed to the public.
Superintendent Easley said the expelled students can attend a public school in the state, but it's up to that school to accept them.
Spencer Parker, the only black school board member, was the only one to vote against the decision.
The victim's cousin told FOX13 News three white ninth grade football players tried to hang their black teammate with a noose in the locker room during the last week of September.
"It did happen, it did, and it's sad," said Lakeisha Jones, whose son attends Wynne High School. "The kids are not safe at this school. My son played ball. He is out, as of tonight. I'm scared for my son. What if they get mad and do the same thing to my baby?"
In a statement from Wynne Public Schools, the school district said will not tolerate "any misconduct related to racial slurs and threats."
"Our administration, staff, and school board are committed to providing a safe and orderly school environment and take's this responsibility seriously and any misconduct related to racial slurs and threats will be dealt with according to our policies and will not be tolerated. The high school administration was made aware of an incident that occurred in the 9th grade locker on Monday September 24th on Tuesday night through an e-mail from a parent that had been forwarded to me. The incident was not reported by any student or staff on Tuesday during the school day. On Wednesday morning the administration contacted the Wynne Police Department to report a possible threat of violence and allowed them to review the e-mail. The Wynne Police Department instructed the high school administration to continue interviewing students and contacted the school on two occasions during the investigation to get updates. The interviews with all students present in the locker room were not completed until Friday afternoon. The high school administration did a thorough job of investigating the incident and found that nothing took place that could be considered criminal, that no student was physically injured, or had been pulled with a rope as reported in the media. On Monday October 1 the high school administration met with students and the parents of those that were involved and informed them of the suspensions and recommendations for expulsion. During the investigation the high school administration made every attempt to protect the due process rights of our students in spite of rumors and media reports. At no time did anyone try to cover up the details of what happened."
"This incident has been taken very seriously and this type of behavior will not be tolerated. In protecting the rights of the students involved no further details will be given. In educating our students we look for teachable moments and this is one of those moments not only for our students, but for our faculty and community. All the students involved in the incident as well as the parents are heart broken by what has occurred and in no way condone the behavior. The families of the two students expelled would like to apologize to the Wynne community, school district, and all the students involved for the embarrassment and heartache they have caused. The Wynne High School student body has been wonderful during the last week and have gone about business as usual. It is time to put this behind us, learn from it, and move on."
"The Wynne School District is and will continue to be a safe place for our students."
FOX13 News reporter Bofta Yimam contributed to this report.
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