SMITHFIELD, Cache County — Two students from Sky View High School were suspended after showing up on Halloween dressed as members of the Ku Klux Klan.
The students, one of whom is white and the other black, wore robes and hoods resembling KKK clothing and carried torches.
Both students, whose names were not released, were sent home Thursday and suspended the following day. One of the students is a football player who was not allowed to play in Friday’s game.
"They were doing this in a joking manner — you know, a white and a black student doing that together,” said Mike Liechty, deputy superintendent of Cache County Schools. “I don't think there was any malicious intent."
Students around the school noticed the costumes and weren’t laughing.
“I told him in my third hour, I was like, ‘That’s just not something you joke around with. That’s not even funny,'" said 16-year-old Stockton Huskinson. “And he still thought it was funny, but no one else did.”
“I think it offended some people and … made other people feel uncomfortable,” said Shaylee Merrill, 16, A Sky View High student.
“I don't think that he was like trying to be rude or anything and offend anyone,” said Kristen Lee, also a Sky View student, “but I don't know. It's something that's not funny and something not to joke about.”
School district leaders said the administration didn't get word of the costumes until the third hour.
“The other teachers during the day didn't really realize that because they weren't wearing their hoods. They just kind of carried their hoods, and I guess during a class break or something, they'd put the hood on, and some students then identified what that was,” Liechty said.
On Monday, school administrators met with the students and their parents.
"The parents were aware of it, but … they felt like where it was a white (student) and a black (student) going together, you know, here's a joke, here's a funny costume, and it can be very sensitive,” Liechty said.
The parents later conceded that it was probably not the best idea.
“Apologies were made,” Liechty said. “I think it was just a misunderstanding with kids trying to have fun, and I think it’s all worked out and been resolved at this point.”
The students were back in school Monday.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP, released the following statement Tuesday morning:
"The NAACP is extremely concerned when we hear about any forms of discriminatory actions taken upon anyone. We are likewise concerned that a student, regardless of age, would want to dress in KKK garb. It also concerns us that parents would allow this to happen, and the NAACP will investigate."
Administrators say there have been some classroom discussions at the school about the costumes and about being sensitive to others.