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School district apologizes after black student dresses as robber for homecoming float

High school staff awarded it top prize, now will undergo further training

A California school district issued an apology after a black student dressed up as a robber for a homecoming float. The district also promised outreach to the Black Student Union.

White students dressed up as police officers for the “Cops and Robbers” display (pictured). Bella Vista High School canceled a subsequent dress up day with the same theme and changed it to “Adam Sandler day.” The apology and investigation came a month after the September incident.

“The investigation found that school staff approved the float even though the theme changed because students had already put in several weeks of work on the float and it was done, a spokesperson for the San Juan Unified School District said,” as reported by CBS News Sacramento.

The district stated it would “expand efforts with our Black student union and several community partners to build opportunities and support for our Black students to engage, share their voices and build community.”

As a result of the controversy, staff members will be ordered to attend training.

“In answering our questions, a district spokesperson said staff at this predominantly White school will get more professional learning on the subject,” the CBS affiliate reported. “Moving forward, we’re told all high schools in the district have to consider inclusion and equity before deciding themes in future events.”

The photo shows a black student in an orange jumpsuit and behind bars. Several white students appear to be dressed as police officers. At least one black student and one white student were standing next to the display wearing the classic black and white prison suit.

The investigation came after several black students complained about the float.

“I felt a little bit stunned because you’re seeing a Black male in an orange suit, also handcuffed,” Black Student Union member Dominique Edwards told Capital Public Radio.

“Regardless of who was in there, that can just bring up a lot of issues with the criminal justice system and mass incarceration,” BSU President Jayha Buhs-Jackson told the media outlet. “My dad is a Black man and very dark-skinned. Every interaction he’s faced with people in [the criminal justice] system has not been positive.”

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.