Teacher’s noose gesture at black student is a ‘hate incident,’ not a hate crime, Calif. police say

A Santa Teresa High School teacher is accused of making a racist gesture toward a black student in April.
A Santa Teresa High School teacher is accused of making a racist gesture toward a black student in April. Google Maps

A white high school teacher reportedly telling a black student to “stay away from me” before using an exercise rope to make a noose around his own neck is a hate incident, but not a hate crime, according to San Jose, California police, ABC 7 reported.

Police investigated the April 30 encounter, during which the Santa Teresa High School teacher and assistant football coach singled out the student in a group and made the racist gesture toward him, authorities said this week, the Mercury News reported. The student told an administrator, the newspaper said.

The teacher, who hasn’t been identified, reportedly said it was a joke, according to ABC 7. After an investigation, the East Side Union High School District found that the incident did take place, officials said, reported the news station.

The encounter was investigated as a hate incident, police Chief Eddie Garcia said, per the New York Daily News. It’s currently being reviewed by the district attorney’s office, the publication said.

In order for it to have been a hate crime, prosecutors would need to believe the student felt threatened by the alleged gesture, the Mercury News reported. But police say the teacher didn’t make physical contact with the student. So criminal charges aren't expected.

The teacher is on paid administrative leave, ABC 7 reported.

He’s the latest teacher to be involved in a racially charged incident. In Leesville, Louisiana, a high school teacher was under investigation for allegedly accusing a “moronic, self obsessed ethnic” of stealing a computer mouse about a month before the San Jose incident.

“The fact that you do not know both your parents, and that the so called adults that are caring for you can not afford a five dollar part because they are too busy buying drugs and coring cigars at the Shop-Rite does not change the fact that you are nothing more than a two bit thief and a waste of carbon and oxygen,” the projected message said.

The teacher thought the message was funny, a student told BuzzFeed News.

In a video obtained by the Phenix City-Russell County NAACP, a group of male students are heard chanting the N-word. Superintendent Randy Wilkes confirmed the five males in the video were students at Central High School or Central Freshman Academy.