A Missouri school has suspended the teacher of a student who wore a Ku Klux Klan outfit to class but insists that the student was not acting “in a discriminatory way” because it was part of a group project.
On Nov. 9, an unnamed student at Poplar Bluff High School attended class dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit according to KFVS. Apparently, the costume was part of what the Poplar Bluff School District says was a history class group project on constitutional amendments. The news station explained:
Superintendent Scott Dill said the groups were in costume, representing different historical facets of the assigned amendments…
One group was assigned the 15th Amendment—“ensuring the rights of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged by the United States on account of race or color. As part of the presentation, students discussed the adverse historical actions of certain organizations that actively engaged in the suppression of voter rights.”
The photo went viral after Brianna Anthony, a 2017 graduate of Poplar Bluff High, posted a screenshot of a Snapchat video on Facebook.
“It was posted on Snapchat by several people,” Anthony told the Springfield News-Leader. “I immediately screenshotted it. I know for a fact it was taken by someone who was there.”
The school immediately suspended the teacher of the history class, who issued a statement apologizing for not addressing the issue.
“I want to sincerely apologize for the pain and negative attention that I have brought to our classroom, school, and community,” the letter began. “I made a mistake on Friday during our skit assignment,” the teacher continued:
I let a student wear an inappropriate costume that was unacceptable and hurt many people’s feelings. As the professional in the room, I should have known better. I am sorry.
It is my job to ensure my students feel safe in class and at school. Because of my lapse in judgment, many of you were hurt and felt uncomfortable. I never wanted that to happen…
I am so sorry for making this mistake, and I hope that you can all forgive me and we can work through this together. I understand that healing and forgiveness take time, and I am absolutely okay with that.
Even though the school suspended the teacher for allowing someone to wear a racist costume, the school district said they do not believe the student intended to be racist.
“We, as a school district, are fully cognizant of the negative historical implication, and strong emotional response that this mode of dress may create,” read a statement from the school district, adding that it was investigating the incident and would take steps to make sure it is “providing age-appropriate, historical context on these critical issues in a socially relevant and culturally responsible manner.