Things That Matter

These Idaho Teachers Are On Paid Administrative Leave Because Of Their Costumes

Fourteen Idaho elementary school teachers and staff members were put on administrative leave after they dressed up as Mexican stereotypes and the U.S. border wall for Halloween.

The since deleted photos posted to Middleton School District’s Facebook page show Middleton Heights Elementary employees wearing sombreros and ponchos while holding mustaches and maracas. The other group of teachers held pieces of a cardboard brick wall with President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” The images quickly spread online and were met with immediate backlash with people calling the images racist.

In since deleted photos, a group of elementary school employees in Idaho dressed as Mexicans and the border wall.

Middleton School District superintendent Josh Middleton made the decision to put the employees on paid administrative leave Saturday at a special school board meeting. According to the Associated Press, Board Chairman Tim Winkle said the costumes were part of a team building activity that took place during after-school hours. The school board released a statement shortly after the meeting:

“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 said. “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.”

A member of the district’s crisis team will be taking over day-to-day principal duties at Middleton Heights for the time being.

The Idaho Education Association posted on Facebook about the offensive costumes and the lack of judgement on behalf of the school.

“The events that took place at Heights Elementary School in Middleton on Halloween are disturbing and inappropriate,” the post read. “The teachers involved, as well as school administrative personnel, and the Middleton School District showed extremely poor judgment.”

Superintendent Middleton learned about the photos after an upset parent contacted him last Thursday. The district immediately launched an investigation into the photos. In a now deleted Facebook live post, Middleton apologized and said that he wanted to “express my sincerest and deepest apologies” for the offensive costumes.

“We are better than this. We embrace all students,” Middleton said in the video. “We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students, period.”

While some are offended by the images some don’t see it that way. Thousands have already signed a petition backing the Idaho teachers.

At least 12,000 signatures have been signed to an online petition in support of the Idaho school administrators that have been suspended. Jacquelyn Meeker, who started the petition, wrote that the situation was “blown out of proportion, as this was a team building exercise done after school with no students present or involved.”

A separate petition, that has drawn almost 10,000 signatures, is titled “No racism in Middleton School District” and describes the costumes as disturbing, bigoted and racist. The petition demands that there should be a change in the culture at the school and it should start with a curriculum that provides awareness of “systemic racism.” According to data from the U.S census, Middleton, Idaho has a Latino population of 9.5 percent, while Middleton Heights Elementary is only 12.9 percent Hispanic/Latino, according to Idaho Ed Trends.

Rights groups are calling for a change in culture in the school district noting the effect these images will have on students going forward.

Twelve advocacy rights organizations, including the Idaho American Civil Liberties Union, sent a letter to the district expressing concern about the costumes and the effect they may have on students.

“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,” the ACLU of Idaho said in a statement.

The images come at a divisive time in the country as rhetoric from the President concerning immigrants has been a hot topic. J.J. Saldaña, who oversees education efforts for the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said the reaction among Latinos in the community has been one of disappointment.

“Over the past two years we’ve seen students getting bullied and hearing things like ‘We’re going to build a wall’ or ‘Your parents are going to be deported,’” Saldaña said. “We need more than just an apology from the school district. These teachers should be leading by example not dividing.”


READ: Here Are 13 Moments Of People Attacking Latinos That Set Social Media On Fire

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A Louisiana Cop Has Been Fired After Saying It Was ‘Unfortunate’ That The Coronavirus Hasn’t Killed More Black People

Things That Matter

A Louisiana Cop Has Been Fired After Saying It Was ‘Unfortunate’ That The Coronavirus Hasn’t Killed More Black People

Dan Kitwood / Getty

study released last week, as U.S. deaths from the Coronavirus approached the 100,000 mark, shows that the black population is dying of the virus at a rate 3.57 times higher than the white population. In some places, such as New York, that rate is even higher.

That is apparently not enough for a Louisiana police officer, who has been fired for writing on Facebook that it is “unfortunate” more black people have not died of the deadly illness.

A white Louisiana cop has been fired following a social media post that revealed his views on the Coronavirus and black people.

Steven Aucoin was a police officer with the Kaplan Police Department – a town about 60 miles outside the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge. He was fired earlier this month after an investigation showed he made extremely racist comments on a Facebook post.

Aucoin’s comments, which were shown in a screenshot of the live stream, were in response to another user who described the Coronavirus as the “virus that was created to kill all the BLACKS is death.” The officer clearly responded with two statements, “Well it didn’t work.” And directly under that comment he then said, “How unfortunate.”

In another section of the thread, Aucoin wrote, “I can’t wait until the next part of the plan is implemented and they see what’s in store for their kind.”

The police chief investigated the comments and quickly fired Aucoin.

Credit: Kaplan Police Department / Facebook

According to Kaplan Police Chief Joshua Hardy, the matter was looked into, investigated, and Aucoin was fired shortly after.

In a brief statement posted to Facebook, the agency said “Chief Hardy and the Kaplan Police Department would like to apologize for this matter. As a police officer, we’re held to a higher standard than normal civilians, so you got to watch what you do. You got to watch what you say.”

Aucoin’s firing was met with some applause – including in meme form – on the department’s Facebook page.

Credit: Kaplan Police Department / Facebook

“I applaud your swift and decisive action regarding this matter,” one commenter wrote. “Your willingness to serve notice on bigotry and ignorance is a genuine representation of redoubtable leadership that is necessary during these difficult times.”

The racist officer’s comments and firing comes as a number of high-profile racial incidences have made headlines across the country.

Credit: Shaun Rayford / Getty

Just a few weeks ago, the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery – a 25-year-old black man – made headlines after a video was shared on social media of former police officer Gregory McMichael and son Travis that chasing and gunning him down. The two men were arrested and public outrage over the lack of response from local officials in February has been wide-spread.

Shortly after that, a video showing a white Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over 8 minutes, until he died, has sparked outrage and massive protests against the murder around the country.

Also in May, a white woman named Amy Cooper was walking her dog off the leash in Central Park in New York. When a black man  – Christian Cooper, who was out bird watching – asked if she could put her dog on the leash, she called the cops on him, saying her life was being threatened by an ‘African American man’. She has since been terminated from her job as head of insurance investment solutions at Franklin Templeton on Tuesday, having been placed on administrative leave a day earlier. 

A Woman Left Racist Notes On People’s Front Doors Telling Them America Is A ‘Nation Of White People’

Things That Matter

A Woman Left Racist Notes On People’s Front Doors Telling Them America Is A ‘Nation Of White People’

@_dalenaaa / Twitter

Racism never stops in America – no need to look any further than the news headlines from the past 48 hours. From Central Park Karen to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers, people of color continue to experience outrageous acts of racism.

During the global Coronavirus pandemic, racism and white supremacy have been used to ignite attacks against communities of color and especially at immigrants. Although the U.S. has the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the world, many Americans ignorantly continue to blame foreigners and immigrants for bringing the virus to the U.S.

A SF Bay Area woman left racist notes containing white supremacist views on doors of homes belonging to immigrants.

A white woman in the Oakland suburb of Dublin has been arrested by police for allegedly leaving handwritten racist messages at several homes, targeting immigrants.

The white supremacist notes suggested that those not native to the United States should leave the country immediately so a ‘white, brave, American’ could live there instead.

“If you are a woman or man and was born in other country, return, go back to your land immediately, fast, with urgency,” the note said. It ended with “One American, white, brave, that serves the Nation or USA is going to live here.”

According to police department news release, the messages were directed towards women and children as well. Officers from the department had investigated a similar incident after a “related note” ordering Asian people to “leave immediately” was found on an information board on a popular hiking trail. Police said they believe the same woman was responsible for that note as well as the others, “messages that instilled fear and intimidation upon those residents.”

Residents targeted by the notes posted the incident to their social media, which helped lead to the woman’s arrest.

One resident gave the officers images captured on his doorbell security camera of a woman taping the note, and the officers soon found her in the area, police said in a statement.

The photo of the note shows text referring to the U.S. Constitution and God, demanding that anyone “born in other country” go back immediately. The note includes white supremacist language. Another note posted to Twitter used similar language, claiming that “in this place no Asian allowed,” and mentioning a May 23 deadline.

The surveillance images shared on social media quickly led police to identify and arrest a suspect, Nancy Arechiga, 52, authorities said. She was “soon located near the community while officers were still in the area,” police said, adding that she was carrying a backpack containing “handwritten notes of the same nature.”

Reports of racist acts directed against Asian people have surged amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

Credit: Steven Senne / Getty

According to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that’s been tracking self-reported incidents, more than 1,100 physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans have been documented since late March. 

The high number of reports, which have been submitted over just two weeks, is especially striking since people across the country have predominantly been sheltering in place. The incidents — logged through the Stop AAPI Hate website, which launched on March 19 — are wide-ranging. 

In one, an Asian American child was pushed off her bike by a bystander at a park. In another, a family at a grocery store was spat on and accused of being responsible for the coronavirus. For some, including one Japanese restaurant owner, the harassment has come in the form of vandalism.

In a VOX interview, Manjusha Kulkarni says, “So many of us have experienced it, sometimes for the first time in our lives. It makes it much harder to go to the grocery store, to take a walk, to be outside our homes.”