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2 suspended for wearing KKK costumes to N. Utah school

Published November 5, 2013 7:32 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Smithfield, Utah • Two students at a Smithfield high school were suspended last week after coming to class on Halloween dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan, administrators said.

The two Sky View High School juniors, including one white student and one African-American student, were sent home Thursday and suspended on Friday, according to The Herald Journal (http://bit.ly/1a5jxUi). One of the students was barred from playing in a football game last week.

"It was a joke that they thought would be funny, but we took it very seriously," said Dave Swenson, the principal of Sky View High School, who declined to release the students' names. "We had the parents in and let them know that as we investigated, there was no intention of being racist. It was just him making a bad choice."

At one point during Halloween, the white student contacted his African-American jiu-jitsu instructor, Carl Sims. The teen sought advice after an African-American classmate who played football with him threatened to beat him up over the costume.

Sims told the newspaper he was shocked the student chose the outfit, which featured a robe, hood and torch.

"When you dress up as a Klansman who raped and killed and tortured my ancestors, that's an issue," Sims said.

He said he was also taken aback that the student's mother reportedly helped her son make the costume.

"And that just floored me because a 16-year-old kid is going to be a kid, but a 40-year-old woman ought to be able to understand this isn't appropriate," Sims said.

Swenson said he held a meeting Monday between school officials and the students' parents to discuss the implications of the outfits.

"We took the opportunity to educate them on how inappropriate and how offensive that is and how kids don't feel safe and how that's one of our big priorities, to make sure kids feel safe here," he said.

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Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com