A high school teacher in Seattle has been suspended after wearing a costume to school on Halloween, reports tv station KIRO7.
Teacher Peter Colino wore a mask, a basketball vest with legend Michael Jordan’s number 23 and black gloves.
Peter says he has worn the same costume for Halloween for 18 years, as a way of motivating the students in his class.
He tells them that Jordan is coming to visit and the next day comes to school dressed as the former basketball star.
During the lesson he plays clips of the highpoints of Jordan’s career.
“He is, to me, the greatest, I’m going to say, athlete of all time and my whole deal is to honor Michael Jordan,” Peter tells local TV station KIRO7.
But many didn’t appreciate the costume.
One mom, who asked to remain annonymous, complained to the school after a video of Peter circulated. She got the video from her son and sent the images to newspaper The Stranger.
“He’s never texted me while he was at school, [but] he sent me the picture and I was just floored,” the mom tells The Stranger and continues:
“I couldn’t even believe the lapse of judgment.”
The principal emailed Peter and asked him to take off the mask for the rest of the day.
“Seattle Public Schools does not tolerate or condone staff behavior that reinforces racial bias or stereotypes. We take this commitment very seriously. While we can’t discuss personnel matters, we are investigating and taking appropriate action,” the school wrote in a statement.
Some students, however, didn’t see a problem with Peter’s costume.
“I laughed. It was funny. I didn’t mind it, seemed cool to me,” said Dillon Mahone, one of Peter’s students, to KIRO7.
The next day, Peter appologised to his students and discussed questions of race and skin color with them.
He describes how he feels about the school’s decision to place him on ”administrative leave” until further notice.
“The difficult part for me is I’ve always done well with trying to bring people together. I teach kids of all backgrounds and I’ve been respected and liked as a teacher,” says Peter.
Peter has also met with The Black Student Union to appologize.
“We are all able to learn from this and now people know this kind of thing shouldn’t happen. I’m hoping it won’t happen again in the future,” says Eden Gevremariam, the union’s vice president.
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