A high school teacher in Las Vegas won’t be facing any disciplinary action for allowing two students to dress in Ku Klux Klan regalia during a classroom presentation in history class.
The incident occurred Jan. 9 at Las Vegas Academy, magnet high school that specializes in the performing arts, the Las Vegas Sun reports. The assignment at issue asked students to demonstrate their knowledge of American history by writing a traditional paper or by performing a theatrical piece or first-person narrative.
With their teacher’s approval, two juniors chose to dress in KKK costumes — the white robes, the hoods, the whole get up.
Things apparently went awry when one of the students put on the white-power garb outside of class. Someone snapped a photo of the student and posted it on social media. The photo spread like wildfire within the school community.
Two days later, Scott Walker, principal of the Las Vegas Academy, sent a letter to parents describing the incident as “unfortunate,” reports the Sun.
“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 this offensive incident and appreciate your support and cooperation as we use these events as teachable moments about cultural and historical understanding,” he added.
The principal also said the magnet school was assessing its “internal procedures” and would discuss the impact of lesson plans with staff members.
Neither the teacher nor the students have been publicly identified by school officials.
Amanda Fulkerson, a school district spokesperson, said the teacher and the students suffered no punishment, only a constructive talking-to.
“The student in this case has been counseled and the teacher has been reminded of the policy in place to notify the principal of potentially controversial lessons,” Fulkerson explained in a statement. “We expect the attention to this event will remind all teachers the policy exists only to protect them.”
This incident isn’t the Las Vegas Academy’s first rodeo where potentially offensive class content is concerned. The same teacher has reportedly allowed students to dress Adolf Hitler in other class assignments.
There was also criticism last year over a theater production of “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The musical required students to utter the N-word.
Students, parents and teachers defended the unnamed teacher at a Clark County School Board meeting last week.
“The infamous KKK is discussed for several pages in the school’s history textbook, it is in the curriculum, and it is a big part of the history of this nation,” said Karina Foster, a junior who is in one of the teacher’s classes. “As a U.S. history instructor, this teacher was simply doing his job.”
Clark County School Board member Linda Young, the only black member of the school board (and the only minority member), was also supportive, notes the Sun. Young observed that no parents had complained. She praised the teacher and the school for offering students the chance to be creative.
“This teacher has my support,” Young said. “I truly do believe the teacher meant no harm.”