A teacher and two students at a Las Vegas performing arts school are under fire from parents after photos emerged of a student wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe for a U.S. history project earlier this month.
The unnamed American history teacher assigned students to write a paper and perform a skit to reflect on a segment of U.S. history. Under the teacher’s guidance, the two juniors decided to dress in a full on KKK costume with robes and hoods.
However, several complaints from the community were filed with the Clark County School district after a photo of the costumed students emerged on social media sites.
A letter obtained by theGrio, written by LVA principal Scott Walker to the parents before the incident, called the incident “unfortunate.”
“While the presentation was designed to highlight the atrocities committed by the Klan, and there was no intention to harm or offend on the part of the students, it was in poor judgment and inappropriate for students to go to such lengths to convey their message,” Walker wrote. “We are deeply sorry for the offensive incident and appreciate your support and cooperation as we use these events as teachable moments about cultural and historical understanding.”
A group of students and school board members stood in support of the teacher, saying he was simply doing his job as a U.S. history teacher. The school board eventually decided that the students and teacher will not be punished for the incident.
“This teacher has my support,” said Clark County school Trustee Linda Young, who happens to be the only black school board member. Young said she did not receive complaints and contends that teacher “meant no harm.”
The same teacher, according to the CT post, also allowed students to dress as Adolf Hitler in other assignments.
Teaching sensitive historical topics has been a tough topic for teachers to tackle in the classroom. Just this past month, a Detroit teacher asked sixth-graders to pretend that they were slaves as a part of a black history lesson, which reportedly made an African-American student feel “embarrassed to be black.”
In another instance two years ago, a teacher in Georgia was placed on administrative leave after allowing four students to dress as KKK members for a final project.
Although the Las Vegas Academy teacher was not penalized for the incident, a spokesperson for the Clark County school district says the teacher was reminded of district policy to notify the school of “potentially controversial lessons.”
“I am deeply saddened that LVA, which prides itself on providing a supportive learning environment for all, was the site of any action that could cause sadness and anger for our school family,” Principal Walker continued in the letter. “We are deeply sorry for this offensive incident and appreciate your support and cooperation as we use these events as teachable moments about cultural and historical understanding.”
Follow Brittany Tom on Twitter @brittanyrtom