By Orko Manna
NEWCASTLE, California (KCRA) — Students and parents are upset after a homemade Ku Klux Klan hood was brought to a Placer County school this week as part of a class project.
The Newcastle Elementary School District confirmed with KCRA 3 that the hood was brought to Newcastle Elementary and Charter School on Wednesday. Eighth grade students were doing a project on U.S. history that involved displaying artifacts from across the years. The school district said the three students who brought the hood inside their eighth grade classroom were assigned the Civil War and Reconstruction time period. The hood was removed Thursday.
An eighth grade student and her mother, who both wanted to remain anonymous, sent KCRA 3 photos of the hood. The students said she could not believe a symbol of hate was brought into her classroom.
“It just caught me by surprise,” the student said. “I just didn’t want it to affect any of the other kids at our school.”
The student also said the hood sat in the classroom in clear view of her classmates and their teacher. There was also a trigger warning on display, noting that the hood was “offensive” and clarifying that the students “do not support the KKK or its activities.”
The school district told KCRA 3 that the hood was removed Thursday, but the student said that only happened after a small group of other students saw it during a presentation. She said the adults who were aware of the hood should have acted faster to get rid of it.
“It was kind of unexpected that the teachers didn’t really put it away as soon as they saw it,” the student said. “I feel like they could have handled the situation better.”
The student’s mother agreed and added that the whole situation was unacceptable.
“I think they should have addressed it immediately,” the mother said. “The one item that they brought in was an item that just represented terror and murder and just division.”
Newcastle Elementary School District Superintendent Denny Rush said what happened was inappropriate, but she added that it is now a teachable moment for the students and their teacher.
“They had no bad intentions. They’ve been talked to; their parents have been talked to,” Rush said. “They wanted something that would grab peoples’ attention and call their attention to the fact that there were bad things happening in our country.”
But Rush admitted that an elementary school was not the right place to display the hood, regardless of the students’ intent to educate.
“We also need to be very careful about how we do that on sensitive subjects. And this is an area where, for a few moments, we missed that goal,” Rush said.
While the student agreed that no harm was intended by bringing the hood to school, she said everyone needs to be more thoughtful.
“You should still put yourself in other peoples’ shoes because someone may think that it’s offensive,” she said.
The school district told KCRA 3 it is getting a group of educators together to come up with a plan so something like this does not happen again.
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