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Idaho School Employees Who Dressed as MAGA Wall and Mexicans on Halloween Put on Paid Leave Pending Further Investigation

November 3, 2018

Fourteen teachers/staff at a Middleton, Idaho, school have been placed on paid leave for collectively dressing on Halloween as a wall with “Make America Great Again” written on it and a group of Mexicans. Investigation into the situation continues.

According to the November 3, 2018, Idaho Statesman, the staff members dressed “as part of a team building activity after school hours.”

What amazes me is that none of the 14 individuals exercised enough foresight to nix the idea. Nothing doing. Not only did the crew dress as the border wall and Mexicans; they posted pictures to the district Facebook page on Thursday, November 01, 2018.

Though the pictures have been deleted and the FB page apparently shut down, that did not stop the pics from going viral:

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Middleton Schools superintendent, Dr. Josh Middleton, also posted this response on the district website, on Friday, November 02, 2018:

Dear MSD Parents,

I want to bring you up to date on events within the district.

We are getting lots of inquiries regarding Halloween day costumes and a photo posting from one of our schools. Local patrons and people across the country are calling in expressing their displeasure with the costume choices. This matter was brought to me last night and district admin are currently reviewing and investigating the chain of events. I have released a statement to the media and spoken to our local TV stations. 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. I know we are better than that literal snapshot, but in the meantime we need to continue our investigation.

I hope we can wrap up our review by Monday. Despite this disruption, our students and student learning is what we are here for, so I ask we remain diligent to the daily mission, Every Student Learning Every Day. We are also activating our Crisis Team to help where needed on Monday. Middleton Police Department has also be instrumental in having a heightened presence at our campuses with extra patrol at Heights Elementary.

Sincerely,
Josh J. Middleton

Dr. Josh J. Middleton, Superintendent
5 South Viking Avenue
Middleton School District 134
Middleton, ID 83644

Josh Middleton also included an apology video on the district FB page. The page is down, but the 2-minute video can be viewed here. Middleton says that he believes the staff’s decision was “clearly insensitive and inappropriate” and showed “poor judgment,” not “malicious intent.”

He also added, “We are better than this.”

To think that not one of the 14 individuals involved thought that dressing as the border wall and Mexicans insults and degrades the dignity of children and families of color boggles my mind, and I wonder about the degree to which such foolishness has damaged the public faith in these teachers/staff, the school, and the district.

Though the Middleton school board placed the employees involved on paid leave, the investigation is ongoing, as the Idaho Statesman includes in this November 03, 2018, update, including apparent temporary replacement/removal of the school’s principal:

The board did not take questions after reading its statement.

“This type of behavior has no place in education and certainly is not tolerated here at Middleton School District. This situation is being taken very seriously. We are in full support of our superintendent and administrative staff as a full investigation is being conducted, and are awaiting the results of the investigation,” the statement reads, in part. “This is an unfortunate incident of very poor judgment. Yet it is not indicative of the Middleton School District or our teachers as a whole.”

Superintendent Middleton also announced that a member of the district’s crisis team would be taking over day-to-day principal duties at Middleton Heights for the time being.

On November 02, 2018, the ACLU of Idaho released the following statement:

Every student—regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability—should feel safe and welcome in our public schools. Indeed, federal and state laws safeguard our students from discrimination, intimidation and harassment based on many of the same protected characteristics.

The ACLU has long worked to uphold and protect the constitutional promise of a safe, free education—unimpeded by discrimination. A promise that has unfortunately been jeopardized for the students of Middleton school district.

Regardless of the intent of a teacher’s actions in the classroom, we must focus on and give weight to the impact of such actions on the students who rely on teachers and other school officials for guidance and support throughout their educational experience. School districts, their staff and other agents have obligations under federal law, state law, and district policies to prevent and protect students, staff, and others from discrimination, bullying, intimidation, and harassment.

As such, Middleton school district should take this incident as an opportunity to proactively engage the student body, teachers, school administration, and the wider Middleton community to create a welcoming environment where all students can thrive. It is critical that, in coordinating a solution and steps forward, the district engage and proactively work with members of the impacted community.

We encourage parents or students to contact the ACLU of Idaho if they experience harassment, bullying or retaliation to file a complaint with the ACLU of Idaho, fill out a complaint from here. The complaint form is available in Spanish here.

ACLU of Idaho
admin@acluidaho.org
208 344 9750

The next Middleton school board meeting is scheduled for November 12, 2018.

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3 Comments
  1. Christine Langhoff permalink

    I first saw these pictures on Twitter, posted by journalist Nicole Foy, who is the Hispanic Affairs reporter for the Idaho Press. Her thread below points out other rather awful goings-on, including a prohibition against bilingual poll workers helping voters using the Spanish language. (Uh, duh, why else would they be bilingual?)

  2. Nearly 10% of the families in the district are Latinos. The teachers must not be paying attention to those families, I guess.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Idaho Teachers/Staff Dressed as Border Wall and Mexicans Reinstated, Principal Remains Suspended | deutsch29

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