Suspended Middleton Teachers Invited Back to Class
MIDDLETON, Idaho (KLIX) – Teachers at a Middleton elementary school who were put on administrative leave for wearing controversial Halloween have been invited back to class.
District Superintendent Josh Middleton said in a prepared statement released on Wednesday that an internal investigation into the matter has been completed and teachers and elementary aides will be back in their classrooms within "the next few days."
The controversy, which News Radio 1310 reported on last Friday, came after 14 teachers and aides at Middleton Heights Elementary School dressed in costume for Halloween as a border wall that read “Make America Great Again” and in stereotypical Mexican garb with ponchos and sombreros.
Middleton, in a Facebook live video last Friday, said while he didn’t believe there was any malicious intent by his staff in wearing the costumes, the decision to do so was nonetheless in poor taste.
Photos of the costumes were originally posted to the district's Facebook page and later taken down, but not before the images started appearing on other sites. The controversy caught the attention of media across the country, including The New York Times.
The district put the 14 members on administrative leave while it further looked into the matter, while others pushed for the teachers' return. A petition on Change.org to reinstate the teachers and aides, which was first reported by KBOI, garnered the support of nearly 17,000 people.
In his statement Wednesday, Middleton said the district is now focused on healing and moving forward as a community, which included the teachers and aides participating in sensitivity training.
"Today we began the re-entry process with training on cultural sensitivity and correspondence with parents, the staff and community,” Middleton said.
Published in the same letter as Middleton's was a statement from the 14 teachers and elementary aides. In part, it reads:
"As educators, we understand our responsibility to our students, our parents, our colleagues, our community, and to our profession. While there was no malice or ill will in our intentions, we recently came up short in our understanding of the awareness of the impact of the choices we made, regardless of our intent.
Individually and collectively we are taking, and will continue to take, steps to learn, grow, and better understand and embrace cultural differences. ..."