A shocking photograph of a group of teachers, posing with something no one would expect to see at a school, has sparked major controversy and lead to the group's suspension from work.
The four female teachers — who work at Summerwind Elementary School in Southern California — were photographed smiling as they pointed to a noose.
The photograph was believed to have been taken by the school principal, Linda Brandts, who then emailed the photograph — as well as a second picture of the noose hanging on a wall in the staff offices — to all employees of the school, with no caption or context, reports news.com.au.
It was soon circulated on social media, sparking fury from the public, with many demanding the group be fired immediately over the morbid act.
One parent told local media that the noose had been hung from a tree on the grounds of the school earlier this month.
They also claimed that someone shot video of the teachers laughing and joking about the noose.
The photo has enraged people across the world, with many condemning the women for appearing to celebrate a tool associated with suicide.
"You women disgust me. You have no business in education. You deserve to be fired with professional reprimand," one person wrote.
Darrin Harper, a father at the school told local television station FOX11 he was furious at the teachers and claimed that the school had a systematic issue with discrimination.
"We want her gone from this school and that's just it," Mr Harper said about the woman holding the noose in the photograph.
"I know what she's about and the pictures prove it. She needs to go."
A statement, released by Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado, confirmed he was aware of an "incident involving the discovery of a noose and possibly inappropriate responses to that discovery."
He assured the public that an investigation was being conducted to get to the bottom of the incident.
But this did little to quell anger from the community, with parents and local activists protesting outside of Summerwind Elementary on Friday afternoon.
Some parents even pulled their kids out of school in response to the photographs.
Mr Maldonado also assured the community that, while an investigation into the leak was continuing, Principal Brandts had been "placed on administrative leave."
CBS News reported that the photo was "only supposed to be shared with a couple of friends and was never supposed to be shared on social media".
One furious member of the public printed out an enlarged version of the photograph and stood outside the school with other protesters.
"If you look at the picture, you can see that they're smiling and even if it is a joke you just don't play like this," he said.
One parent said he had heard that the woman who was pictured holding the noose was apparently "a pretty good teacher for 20 or so years".
The public has condemned the school district for suspending the teachers from work with pay, claiming it was "appalling, frustrating and beyond words".
One parent, Tierra Harris, told her daughter why the noose was so offensive to the community.
"Do you know what they use that for? They use that to hang African-American people — that's what they do — and kill them," Ms Harris told television station KABC.
"They still do it to this day. I don't want you going here because I don't want you to feel like that."
Another parent Breyan Clemmons pulled her child out of the school and said it "hurts me to the core".
"It's disgusting and I'm outraged, and I want to see some action and not just administrative leave," she told the Antelope Valley Press.
"We think that we're sending them to a school; they're safe. Never do we think we're sending them to a plantation where they got nooses hanging up, and holding on to nooses."