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Nike’s latest “Just Do It” campaign featuring controversial athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick has incited emotions from outrage to elation across the country. But one place where judgment isn’t welcome is an elementary school in Seal Beach, Calif., where a principal is under fire for calling the NFL free agent an “anti-American thug.”
Taking to her personal Facebook page to share her frustration over Nike’s decision to sign Kaepernick, who famously knelt in protest during the national anthem, Roni Burns-Ellis posted a photo of a cut-up Nike T-shirt alongside a strong message.
“My newest rag!” the J.H. McGaugh Elementary School principal wrote. “When Nike signs an anti-American thug to represent their brand, I will not support, wear, purchase, or endorse their product. Bye-bye Nike.”
Shortly after, the post was seen by parents within the Los Alamitos Unified School District, who later created a petition to express concern over the statement made by the school’s administrator.
Titled “Los Alamitos Unified School Leaders – Please lead by example!” the petition reads, in part: “We may disagree but we hope our Los Alamitos School leaders will always act civilly, treat each other with respect, and not engage in name calling. Our children view the teachers and principals as a beacon of moral character. We hope our school leaders will act responsibly and will walk with kindness as they lead our children with their actions.”
The petition, which launched Tuesday, currently has more than 1,300 signatures, as well as comments from parents who are speaking out against Burns-Ellis.
“It is obvious Ms. Burns-Ellis has racist views on Blacks as she refers to Mr. Keapernick as a ‘thug,” one parent wrote. “He is no gangster, criminal or for that matter a thug. Leaders who teach children to stereotype any group, as this principal has done, has no business leading our teachers, community and especially our children. I implore our school board to release Ms. Burns-Ellis of her duties immediately. She is unfit to lead, period.”
Others have come to the principal’s defense, saying that she is entitled to her opinion.
“I agree with her. Everything she’s done. I mean Colin Kaepernick, he’s disrespected the military, disrespected this nation just by kneeling during the anthem. You don’t do that. That’s disrespectful,” parent William Haughland told KABC.
According to KABC, Burns-Ellis apologized to parents during a PTA meeting, saying she never meant to offend anyone.
Los Alamitos Unified Superintendent Sherry Kropp provided the following statement to Yahoo Lifestyle: “As the Superintendent, I take full responsibility for our leadership team. We will provide ongoing education about approaching differences in a respectful manner and the appropriate use and impact of social media. One person’s opinion on a personal Facebook page does not represent the values of our District, nor is it representative of our District’s mission and vision. However, I understand that what someone writes publicly does reflect on us and can damage the good work we are doing. We care deeply about all students and want them to thrive in a diverse society. We will learn from this and move forward stronger and better.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• Donald Trump Asked ‘What Was Nike Thinking?’ And Got Savaged In Reply
• How schools are dealing with students taking a knee during the national anthem
• Cheerleader who knelt in national anthem protest goes viral