SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A high school teacher in the South Bay is currently under investigation for an alleged gesture using a rope fashioned to resemble a noose made toward an African-American student.

The incident happened in the weight room of Santa Teresa High School in San Jose on April 30.

It was the end of the school day during 7th period. The student, a football player, rounded the corner to see his football coach and PE teacher standing with a thick, heavy rope, similar to the kind athletes use for strength training.

Tiye Garrett, a community activist, explained to KPIX 5 what happened next.

“And his teacher made a rope like structure around his own neck and directly said to the student, ‘Stay away from me _____’ with the student’s name in the sentence. He claims that this teacher was making a joke,” said Garrett.

The student immediately took offense.

“The student obviously did not find it funny and he told the teacher. And the teacher tried to hug him and he just kind of brushed him off and said like, ‘No, please don’t touch me,'” said Garett. “He just made an offensive gesture to him. Why try to hug him?”

The student reported it to the school administration, who then investigated and found that there was credible evidence that it happened.

The district has a policy against so-called hate motivated behavior.

The case was handed over to San Jose police and the teacher was put on paid administrative leave.

When asked if she would want to see the teacher lose his job, Garett replied, “Personally I would never want someone to lose their job. I don’t say anything like that. All I can say is, his actions [should] have a consequence.”

The East Side Union High School District Superintendent Chris D. Funk released a statement that read in part, “I am deeply disturbed and troubled by the allegations and the investigation findings. The District is committed to redoubling its own efforts and to working with community stakeholders to ensure that discrimination, harassment and bullying are removed from our campuses, classrooms, programs, and workplace.”

South Bay community activist Dani Wadlington told KPIX 5 that students of color tell her they don’t feel welcome at Santa Teresa High.

“I have not seen any evidence that they’re doing things to address the root cause of why it’s occurring in the first place,” said Wadlington.

The case is now in the hands of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office. They will evaluate the case and decide whether or not charges will be filed in the incident.

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