Offensive Halloween costumes partly led Utah school to hold diversity assembly

After days of silence, Cache County principals answer questions from KUTV 2News about the impact of an assembly on race and diversity at Sky View High School.

As KUTV 2News reported on Monday, a video about racism – released at the end of the assembly last week – drew criticism from some parents and led to an apology from the principal.

But part of the reason for holding last week’s assembly, according to school officials, was because of what happened in Sky View around Halloween when two students showed up dressed in inappropriate and offensive costumes, especially for people of color.

Blackface and a KKK outfit

A photo obtained by KUTV 2News shows a Sky View student on stage at a Halloween assembly disguised as a basketball player wearing a black face. Another student showed up that day in KKK attire.

But the parents didn’t hear any of this from school. Sky View director Mike Monson said he had approached it with those involved and their parents – and that was the end of it.

Monson called the students’ costume choices an “individual error,” noting that they both learned from the experience.

But last week, after showing a four-and-a-half-minute video at the end of a diversity congregation, Monson took a different approach. He emailed all the parents at Sky View. In it, he praised presenter Dr Jacquelyn Thompson, but said the video – which touched on the mistreatment of people of color and white privilege – was too confrontational.

When asked whether to apologize for the video, Monson paused and replied, “Yes, as long as it was something that bothered people so much.”

” My heart is hurting me “

But Darlene McDonald, a community activist, disagrees.

“The apologies should have been [Thompson], not to parents, ”said McDonald.

She said she believed both incidents – especially what happened on Halloween – should have been handled better. She became emotional as she spoke about the history of black oppression and how black students at Sky View might have felt seeing these costumes.

“My heart hurts right now just thinking about it,” she said, crying. “I’m in pain right now thinking about it. “

Why the difference in treatment

Tim Smith, assistant superintendent of the Cache County School District, said the conversations about race were necessary and the purpose of the assembly was to create respect and understanding among the students.

But KUTV 2News asked Smith why last week’s assembly was handled differently from the student wearing a blackface on Halloween.

“There was no response from the community to the student, and it was a momentary thing that they handled that based on this case with this student,” Smith said.

Even though he was in the congregation and many students saw him?

“Okay, yeah,” Smith replied. “Yes, it was treated differently. There was no outcry about this event.

Smith said such incidents are usually dealt with on a case-by-case basis and the school cannot go back and change what happened.

“We can move forward, we can learn from our experiences, and we hope parents will give us that trust, and we can take steps to regain that trust,” Smith said.

A Cache County School Board meeting will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Some parents plan to show up to comment on the recent incidents. The meeting will be held in person and will be webcast live here.

About Hannah Schaeffer

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