A Utah elementary school principal and teacher have been suspended after a student wore a Nazi costume during the school’s Halloween parade last week.
Parents were shocked and horrified when the boy, who has not been publicly identified, donned a fake Adolf Hitler-esque moustache and a red armband emblazoned with a swastika during the event Thursday at Creekside Elementary School in Kaysville, according to local news reports.
Two parents told local Fox affiliate KSTU that the student was doing a Nazi salute during the parade. Both parents, who wished to remain anonymous, are questioning why school officials allowed him to participate in the parade dressed as a Nazi in the first place.
One of the parents said they called the school to complain the day after the parade and were told the student had been removed from the parade, ordered to change his clothes and that his parents were notified. But the mother said she felt the behaviour had been excused by administrators.
“I was told that [the school] thought he was Charlie Chaplin,” she told KSTU. “And like, he has a whole swastika on his arm. ... He had to have been seen by his teacher, by multiple people.”
Video and images of the student’s costume gained attention after being posted to a Facebook page for local mothers, reported Deseret News. The woman who shared the photo called the costume as “ridiculous and distasteful as one could get” and said the boy was “Hailing Hitler” in the face of the “few minority children who attend the school.”
The Davis School District apologised for the incident in a statement sent to HuffPost on Monday and said it was investigating “every aspect of the situation.”
The school district “does not tolerate speech, images or conduct that portray or promote hate in any form,” according to the statement. “The district is taking the matter very seriously and is investigating every aspect of the situation.”
The principal and teacher have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, the school district said in its statement. A representative for the school district declined to confirm the identity of the staff members.
Creekside Elementary School, located about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City, serves more than 750 students from preschool to sixth grade.
In a statement Saturday, the United Jewish Federation of Utah said it’s “appalled” that the student was allowed to participate in the parade apparently dressed as Hitler.
“Almost all Jews and Americans regard Hitler and Nazi symbols as signifiers of the worst hatred, racism, and crimes against humanity that the world has known,” the organisation said in its statement. “Dressing a child as Hitler is intolerably offensive and should never be suggested, permitted, or condoned.”
Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise nationwide in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League reported in April that assaults against Jewish people in 2018 were more than double the number reported in 2017.