MIDDLETON — The Middleton School District Administration is investigating after learning Middleton school staff wore inappropriate costumes during class on Halloween.
A photo showing a group of Middleton Heights Elementary School staff donned in patriotic attire standing behind a fake brick wall with the words “Make America Great Again" was posted on the Middleton School District’s Facebook page Thursday night. Alongside was another photo of a group of teachers wearing sombreros and mustaches and holding maracas. The post, which did include other staff costumes, has since been removed from the district’s Facebook page.
A parent alerted Superintendent Josh Middleton of the concern over the costumes Thursday, according to a statement he released Friday morning.
“I was shown the photos and am deeply troubled by the decision by staff members to wear costumes that clearly are insensitive and inappropriate regardless of the context,” he said.
District administrators are investigating the issue as of Friday morning, he said.
According to the elementary’s website, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra visited the school during their Halloween festivities. A phone call seeking comment from Ybarra was not immediately returned.
“On behalf of the Middleton School District, I share sincerest apologies for these insensitive actions and offending our families and patrons,” he said. “Again, we are better than this.”
Middleton said in a Facebook live video addressing the costumes that he does not believe staff did it maliciously, though he absolutely called it a “poor judgment.”
Elizabeth Almanza, a member of PODER (Protecting our Dreams and Empowering Resilience) of Idaho, a community advocacy group on behalf of undocumented people and immigrants, disagrees. She hopes further action is taken than just acknowledging it on social media.
“These photos are extremely disheartening. ALL children should have the right to a learning environment that celebrates all backgrounds,” Almanza wrote in a Facebook post. “Imagine how some of the students felt when they walked into their classrooms on Halloween and saw their teachers (people they look up to) dressed like this? This is NOT funny. This is heartbreaking. Students deserve better.”
According to the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, Millcreek Elementary School has 8.3 percent Hispanic students, 19 percent of Purple Sage Elementary School students are Hispanic, 12 percent of the Middleton Middle School’s population are Hispanic and 11 percent of Middleton High School’s students are Hispanic.
As of 2017, 9.5 percent of Middleton’s nearly 7,500 population are Hispanic, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The Middleton School District also has a migrant education program, which Idaho students qualify for if they’ve moved in the last three years and their family works in agriculture.
Idaho Press reporter Nicole Foy contributed to this report.