A Utah elementary school principal and teacher were reinstated to their jobs last week after being placed on administrative leave for allowing a student to wear a Nazi costume and mimic Adolf Hitler during the school’s Halloween parade.
According to the Ogden-based Standard Examiner, the principal — identified on the school’s website as Steve B. Hammer — and the unidentified teacher were reinstated on Nov. 8 after the Davis School District completed its investigation into the incident and took “appropriate disciplinary action.”
Because the incident involved student and personal issues, the district did not disclose what that disciplinary action was, or whether it was directed at the principal, the teacher or the student, who wore the Nazi costume on Oct. 31 at the K-6 Creekside Elementary School in Kaysville, some 20 miles north of Salt Lake City.
According to witnesses who were at the school parade, the student wore khaki pants, a necktie and a red armband with a swastika. He also wore a mustache reminiscent of that worn by Hitler and, according to one woman, who called the school to complain, was “hailing Hitler in the face of the few minority children who attend the school,” according to a report in the Deseret News of Salt Lake City.
The woman claimed she was told by the school that the student was instructed to leave the parade and change his clothing, and that his parents had been notified.
The woman, who posted a photo of the student on Facebook, called the costume “as ridiculous and distasteful as one could get.”
The story quickly gained national media traction after the Facebook post was shared with the Utah chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement whose local leader, Lex Scott, told the Deseret News that she was outraged by the incident.
“It just flew me into a rage because I get so many complaints about Davis School District,” Scott said.
The regional Jewish community was no less upset at the reports.
The United Jewish Federation of Utah on Nov. 2 said it was “appalled” that the school apparently allowed the student to participate in the parade, at least for a while.
“Almost all Jews and Americans regard Hitler and Nazi symbols as signifiers of the worst hatred, racism, and crimes against humanity that the world has known,” the federation said in its statement.
“Dressing a child as Hitler is intolerably offensive and should never be suggested, permitted, or condoned.”
In addition to temporarily suspending with pay the principal and teacher, the Davis School District has publicly apologized for the incident on at least two occasions, stating that it “does not tolerate speech, images or conduct that portray or promote hate in any form. Because of that, it continues to apologize for the situation.”
The district has also said that that Creekside Elementary will “continue and expand initiatives to educate and train school and department employees regarding the importance of protecting the rights of individuals.”
Confirming concerns expressed by Black Lives Matter, the Standard Examiner reported that the Halloween parade was not the first bias-related incident to occur in the district this year.
In July, the district agreed to pay $62,500 to settle a lawsuit that alleged a bus driver for West Point Junior High dragged a 13-year old biracial student who was caught by his backpack in the bus door. According to the lawsuit, the student was in “mortal danger” as he was dragged 150-175 feet.
The lawsuit, filed by the student’s parents, alleged that the district had “deflected or ignored many complaints” about the driver’s alleged conduct toward minority students.
Chris Leppek may be reached at IJNEWS@aol.com.
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