Idaho School District Apologizes for Halloween Costumes Depicting Mexican Stereotypes and Border Wall

The superintendent of an Idaho school district apologized on Friday after photos circulated showing some staff members at an elementary school wearing Halloween costumes depicting Mexican stereotypes and others posing behind a border wall adorned with President Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

The two photos were among several costume pictures posted to the school district’s Facebook page before being taken down. One showed a group wearing sombreros, ponchos and dark mustaches; the other included staff members dressed in American patriotic gear standing behind what appeared to be a cardboard border wall.

The photos of staff members from Middleton Heights Elementary School in Middleton, Idaho, were quickly met with outrage from the local Hispanic community and beyond. The pictures exacerbated a racial divide in a state that is predominantly white but where Hispanic people are the largest minority group. The episode also came at a time when the president has stoked anti-immigrant animus just before the midterm elections.

In a Facebook video posted Friday, Josh J. Middleton, the superintendent of Middleton School District, said the school district was investigating what had happened.

“Do I think there was a malicious intent in this poor decision? No, I don’t,” he said. “Was there a poor judgment involved? Absolutely.” He added that he was “deeply troubled by the decision by our staff members to wear those costumes that are clearly insensitive and inappropriate.”

“We are better than this,” he said. “We embrace all students. We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students — period.”

A letter addressed to the superintendent from 12 community groups — including the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, Planned Parenthood and Immigrant Justice Idaho — said that “the school and community climate in Idaho continues to grow more harmful against specific groups and identities, including our Latinx friends, family and neighbors.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Sarah Mervosh