School staff pictured in offensive Halloween photos placed on administrative leave

MIDDLETON, Idaho - UPDATE: 14 staff members at Heights Elementary in Middleton have been placed on administrative leave after dressing up for Halloween in costumes many parents and Treasure Valley residents are calling "offensive" and "racist."

"They should have some kind of sensitivity training-- some kind of interaction with other cultures, because this-- this is what they are passing on to the kids. So it's normalizing-- for them-- that these kinds of things are acceptable, when, in my opinion, they are not," said Kevin Vallejo, Boise resident.

Actually, Middleton School District has now announced that they are doing just that. Administrators say that this Wednesday, Nov. 7th, there will be an all-district staff meeting for cultural sensitivity training. They say these kinds of trainings "will continue throughout this school year and at the start of each school year moving forward," according to the administration's release.

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Days after a group of Middleton Heights Elementary School teachers and staff came under fire for dressing as a border wall and group of Mexicans on Halloween, the district's superintendent announces the employees involved have been placed on administrative leave.

According to Idaho Ed News, the decision was announced Saturday morning at a special school board meeting. After the announcement, the board went into executive session. The superintendent did not disclose the names of the employees involved.

In response to the controversy, Mark Hopkins has been named principal at Heights Elementary “for now,” Middleton said. Hopkins began the year as principal of Purple Sage Elementary, according to Idaho Ed News. 

Board members participated in a nearly two-hour executive session before returning to open session and reading a statement condemning the employees’ actions.

Photos of the employees posing in their costumes were originally posted on the school district's Facebook page and then later removed. The entire district's Facebook page has since been taken down.

"A patron reached out to me and was disturbed by the photos and then he shared those with me and I was equally, I was disappointed and I saw some inappropriate and insensitive costumes," Dr. Josh Middleton, superintendent, Middleton School District said Friday. 

Friday, the superintendent said the costumes were part of a curriculum unit on character, respect, and kindness. 

Superintendent Josh Middleton says this is a learning opportunity for the district and other schools. 

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