An elementary school in Idaho has received major backlash after several teachers wore offensive costumes for Halloween and posted the images to social media.
At least a dozen teachers at Heights Elementary School in Middleton dressed up for the annual holiday as the proposed border wall and Mexican stereotypes, KGW reported.
In the photos — that were originally posted to the school district’s Facebook page, but have since been deleted — the teachers who were dressed as a wall are seen standing inside a classroom behind large pieces of cardboard decorated as bricks with “Make America Great Again” written across in red, white, and blue letters.
As for those dressed as Mexicans, the teachers wore rainbow ponchos and sombreros and carried maracas. Some sported stick-on mustaches while another wore a dress with cones on her head resembling a piñata. One woman in the center of the photo even wore a sombrero that has the word “MEXICAN” written across the brim.
KGW says the teachers created the offensive group costumes as a team-building activity.
After the photos went viral, the district’s superintendent, Dr. Josh Middleton, issued a statement in a video also posted to Facebook, explaining that he wanted “to express my sincerest and deepest apologies” for the costumes, according to KGW.
“I was shown those photos and [was] deeply troubled by the decision by our staff members to wear those costumes that are clearly insensitive and inappropriate,” he said in the video, explaining that he discovered the images on Thursday night after a parent complained.
“We are better than this. We embrace all students,” the superintendent said. “We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students, period.”
The superintendent later issued another statement on the district’s website, explaining that an investigation was underway and shared his hopes of the review being completed by Monday.
“The district as a whole is receiving publicity that is judging our schools and community on the events of that afternoon into a negative, broad generalization,” he wrote on the website. “I know we are better than that literal snapshot.”
The superintendent claimed that the teachers did not intend to upset anyone with their costumes.
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“Do I think there was a malicious intent in this poor decision? No, I don’t,” he told KGW. “Was there a poor judgment involved? Absolutely.”
“Now our work begins in looking into this matter and learning from this and changing,” he continued. “And again, being the school we can be, the school district we know we can be, rather than what was displayed on Thursday.”
It is not clear at this time whether the teachers — who have yet to be publicly identified — will be fired or disciplined for their actions.