Three Palm Beach County school district employees face suspension in noose incident

Three Palm Beach County School District employees face suspension after allegedly being caught leaving a noose by a time clock at the district in November.

The school board will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to suspend Electrician Keith Sills, Electronic Equipment Foreman Gerald Workman and Electrical Equipment Technician Raymond Nichols for 10 days each in connection with the incident. The proposal would also demote Workman from foreman to electrician.

According to a school district report on Nov. 18, 2011 an employee found the noose hanging by a time clock. The report does not disclose in exactly which department the noose was found. The employee, who was not identified, reported the incident and a district human relations official reviewed surveillance video and discovered that Nichols, Sills and Workman were involved in the incident.

According to the report, Nichols later admitted to tying the noose when questioned. Nichols declined to comment when reached by The Palm Beach Post about the incident and said his union, the Service Employees International Union, was handling the matter. The local spokeswoman for the union, Afifa Khaliq, could not be immediately reached for comment. District Employee Relations Director Sandra Gero also could not be immediately reached for comment.

The report says the suspensions would be effective April 13 but that all three men would have the right to appeal.

This is not the first time a noose has become an issue in Palm Beach County in recent months. In January, West Palm Beach officials investigated an incident where an unidentified person left pictures of people hanging from trees and poles with ropes tied around their necks on a city work truck. Those pictures had the names of five black and Hispanic employees attached to them.

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