An Idaho elementary school is under investigation after several staff members showed up to work in offensive Halloween costumes.
As pointed out by the Statesman, employees of Middleton Heights Elementary School thought it was a good idea to dress up as a Mexican border wall that featured the phrase, "Make America Great Again." Other staffers were spotted wearing sombreros, ponchos, and fake mustaches, sparking nationwide backlash and accusations of racism.
Shorty after the photos surfaced on Facebook, Superintendent Josh Middleton issued an apology via livestream. Though he acknowledged that the costumes were insensitive, he said he doesn't believe the staffers had malicious intent.
"Last night, a parent contacted me expressing concern of staff costumes worn here on Halloween," he said. "I'm 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 continued: "We already have district administration looking into the matter first thing this morning [...] Do I think there was a malicious intent in these poor decisions? No, I don't. Was there a poor judgment involved? Absolutely."
A dozen Idaho-based advocacy groups—such as the ACLU of Idaho, Immigrant Justice Idaho, and PODER of Idaho—released an open letter to the district’s superintendent Friday afternoon, expressing their concerns about the harm caused by the offensive costumes.
"The intent or misjudgments of the individuals involved does not undo the trauma experienced by students, families and communities," the letter reads in part. "The impact on these students does not stay only with them but has lasting effects beyond the school or classroom. We believe the school and classrooms have now become hostile environments that are not conducive to the education of the students."
The staffers who wore the costumes have not been publicly identified. It is unclear if they face termination or any disciplinary actions.