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Staff at an Idaho elementary school prompted widespread outcry this week after photos circulated showing some employees dressed in stereotypical Mexican costumes (ponchos and sombreros) and others posing with a cardboard border wall that said “Make America Great Again” for Halloween.
The Idaho Statesman reports that the photos were posted but later removed from the Facebook page for Middleton School District and included the caption, “It was a great day to be a Heights Hawk! We celebrated our RESPECT character winners, single and double marathon runners.”
The images from the now-deleted post have been circulating on Twitter and other Facebook pages, drawing criticism for many saw as a racist and deeply insensitive display from educators. Many commenters have called for the staff pictured to be fired or face other consequences.
According to the Statesman, the ACLU of Idaho and 11 other state advocacy groups sent a letter to the school district’s superintendent about the costumes.
“The intent or misjudgments of the individuals involved does not undo the trauma experienced by students, families and communities,” the letter states. “The impact on these students does not stay only with them but has lasting effects beyond the school or classroom.”
The school’s superintendent, Josh Middleton, responded to the wave of criticism on Friday in a Facebook live video, calling the costumes “insensitive” and “inappropriate.”
“We are better than this,” Middleton said in the clip. “We embrace all students. We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students, period.”
The Statesman reports that district administrators are investigating the incident. It’s unclear who posted the photos to the district’s Facebook page, or whether the staff members involved will face punishment.
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H/T Idaho Statesman
Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.