A Utah elementary school student who walked in his school’s Halloween parade dressed as Adolf Hitler has sparked outrage from parents who say his costume should never have been allowed.
The student wore beige pants, a dark shirt and tie and a red swastika armband as he walked the halls at Creekside Elementary School in Kaysville, Utah on Thursday, photos obtained by Fox affiliate KSTU show.
Additional video obtained by the outlet shows the student with his right arm raised in a “Heil Hitler” salute during the parade.
“There was a lot of whispers. There [were comments] like, ‘What is going on? I can’t believe that they allowed him to do that,’” a mother of a Creekside student told KSTU. “The fact that it was at a school — he had to have been seen by his teacher, by multiple people.”
The mother added that her third-grade son told her that the student was also being “antagonistic” toward minority children at recess by doing the “Heil Hitler” sign, and that he was targeting specific children, including her son.
The principal and the boy’s teacher have both been placed on paid administrative leave, a spokesperson for the Davis School District said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“The Davis School District apologizes for what took place Thursday at Creekside Elementary. It does not tolerate speech, images or conduct that portray or promote hate in any form,” the statement read. “The district is taking the matter very seriously and is investigating every aspect of the situation.”
Meanwhile, the mother of the third-grader told KSTU that she complained to the school, and was told that the boy was taken out of the parade and asked to change clothing, and that his parents were called.
Still, she wasn’t satisfied with the school’s reaction, and said they attempted to “excuse” the incident by claiming to have thought he was dressed as Charlie Chaplin.
“Hitler is hurtful. It’s hurtful to people,” she said. “It’s a horrible part of the world’s past. So it shouldn’t be glorified at all.”
The Deseret News reported that the photo of the boy’s costume first gained traction after it was shared to a Facebook group for moms in Weber and Davis Counties, and that the woman who shared it wrote that it was as “ridiculous and distasteful as one could get.”
Another woman who appeared to be part of the same Facebook group later shared a photo publicly to her own Facebook page, and criticized all involved for letting it go as far as it did.
“Whatever adult (parents, school administrators, teachers, bus drivers, etc.) saw this costume and thought it was acceptable to let him continue wearing it, shame on you! I hope the world our grandchildren grow up in isn’t as deplorable,” she wrote.
The United Jewish Federation of Utah also weighed in, writing it was “appalled” that the child was allowed to participate in the parade dressed as Hitler.
“Almost all Jews and Americans regard Hitler and Nazi symbols as signifiers of the worst hatred, racism, and crimes against humanity that the world has known. Dressing a child as Hitler is intolerably offensive and should never be suggested, permitted, or condoned,” the group said in a statement.
It continued, “We believe School Districts, School Administrators and teachers have an obligation to provide guidance to students and parents about what would be an unacceptable costume for such a school parade. We appreciate the quick action and condemnation by the Davis School District and look forward to the results of their investigation into this matter.”
Creekside Elementary is about 25 miles north of Salt Lake City, and serves 759 students from preschool to sixth grade, according to its website.