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School Staffers' Halloween Get-Up a 'Gross Display of Dehumanization'

Superintendent apologizes after staffers dressed as 'border wall' and in stereotypical Mexican garb
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2018 7:00 AM CDT
Staffers at an Idaho elementary school are in the hot seat for their Halloween costumes.   (Getty Images/hatman12)

(Newser) – Halloween is over, but the controversy in one Idaho town isn't. NBC News reports that the superintendent for Middleton School District has issued an apology after photos were shared on social media of staffers at Heights Elementary School dressed up, as a group, as both stereotypical Mexicans—complete with maracas, colorful shawls, and sombreros, one of which appeared to have the word "Mexican" scrawled across it—and also as a cardboard "border wall," with "Make America Great Again" spelled out across the front of the costume in red, white, and blue lettering (pictures can be seen at KPVI). The images initially popped up on the school district's Facebook page, though they've since been taken down. A petition with more than 4,200 signatures calls the photos "disturbing," with "bigoted messages and racist stereotypes."

"The gross display of dehumanization of Latin children and the outrageous harm caused by trusted adults that they learn from and look up to cannot be ignored," the petition notes. Meanwhile, the Idaho Statesman reports a dozen Idaho advocacy groups, including the ACLU of Idaho, sent a letter to the district noting the impact of such a "hostile environment," saying it can have "lasting effects beyond the school or classroom." In a video posted on the school district's Facebook page—the page was down at press time—Superintendent Josh Middleton said he was "deeply troubled by the decision by our staff members to wear those costumes that are clearly insensitive and inappropriate." He apologized, adding he didn't think the costumes were donned out of maliciousness, and that "we are better than this. We embrace all students." (Megyn Kelly's remarks on Halloween costumes got her into trouble.)

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