A teacher at a high school in the suburbs of Albuquerque told a black kid dressed as Santa Claus that the costume was inappropriate because, the teacher asserted, Santa is white.
The incident occurred last week at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., reports local NBC affiliate KOB-TV. Students were allowed to dress up as Santas, or elves, or reindeer.
The student — a ninth-grader — showed up at school dressed in a one-piece Santa mask complete with a white beard and a red hat.
Michael Rougier, the boy’s father, told KOB-TV that the teacher said something along the lines of: “Christopher, don’t you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?”
Rougier is white.
The hue of the teacher’s skin color is unclear.
A Rio Rancho Public Schools representative told KOB that the unidentified teacher realized that he made a “dumb” mistake and has apologized to the boy’s family.
At his family’s request, the boy has been removed the teacher’s class.
The district assured the NBC affiliate that the teacher has been disciplined in some way but would not elaborate. The teacher is still teaching at Cleveland High.
Rougier, the boy’s dad, remains very angry about the incident.
“There’s no room for that in the classroom,” the furious father said.
Members of interracial families must “stand up and say, it’s time to stop this,” he added.
“I have to fight for my boys.”
For some reason, the color of Santa’s skin has been a major news topic lot this holiday season. Last week, Fox News host Megyn Kelly faced criticism for telling viewers that “Santa just is white” in a segment of “The Kelly File” about the cultural image of Santa. (RELATED: Megyn Kelly dismisses ‘white Santa’ outrage as ‘the knee-jerk instinct’ to ‘race bait’)