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'VBCPS does not tolerate acts of hate' | Noose found hanging from tree at Newtown Elementary

A social media post appears to show the rope dangling from a tree near the school's parking lot.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach school officials and police are investigating after a staff member found a noose at Newtown Elementary School.

Families got a message that the rope was found hanging from a tree on school property. A social media post appears to show the rope dangling from a tree near the parking lot.

In a statement sent to Newtown parents, the school said, "This has caused some understandable feelings of fear and stress amongst our staff and we’re making you aware because we believe it is important to be transparent with our school community."

School officials said the Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Office of Security and Emergency Management and Virginia Beach Police Department are "thoroughly investigating this matter and are increasing their patrols."

VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said the division does not tolerate any acts of hate. 

"I am horrified by what can only be seen as a racially motivated act and can assure our community that VBCPS does not tolerate acts of hate of any kind. We will fully support and cooperate with our law enforcement partners to ensure this matter is thoroughly investigated. If anyone has any information about the incident, we ask that they report it to the Virginia Beach Police Department," Spence said in a statement.

Dr. Eric Majette, president of the Virginia Beach NAACP branch, said he is frustrated.

"For me, it was very alarming. Very frustrating and I began to think about, ‘Here we go again,’" he said.

Vice President Gary McCollum agrees.

"This is not something that we should take lightly," he said.

McCollum calls it a hate crime.

"We know the history of nooses in our country. It was designed to intimidate," he said. "I don’t think it was by accident that it was at an elementary school. It was there to send a message."

Majette said as the grandfather of two elementary schoolers, his heart hurts for students who had to see that.

"They should feel safe when they go to school and not feel intimidated," he said.

Virginia Beach school officials and police are investigating the incident. McCollum and Majette both said they’d like to see this investigated on a higher level.

Counselors are available for students and staff who are in need of support.

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