A special education staff member at an Oregon elementary school was placed on administrative leave after showing up to work in blackface, saying she was Rosa Parks and protesting the district’s vaccine mandate for teachers.
Identified by another staff member at Mabel Rush Elementary School, Lauren Pefferle defended her decision to show up to work in blackface before being removed from school grounds, KOIN reported.
The local outlet reported that the staff member used iodine to darken her face on Friday. The incident happened on Friday. The school district released a statement in response to the incident.
“The administration of Newberg Public Schools condemns all expressions of racism,” its statement read. “It is important to remember how Blackface has been used to misrepresent Black communities and do harm. We acknowledge the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention.”
“Each incident report is always taken seriously as we diligently follow our policies to investigate and take appropriate action. We continue to work towards a safe and welcoming environment in our schools that is free from bullying and reduces mental, emotional and physical harm as we move forward together in our mission of educating students,” the statement continued.
According to KGW8, all K-12 employees in the state are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
Despite the school district being embroiled in racist incidents, a Black woman and former school board candidate said the county commissioner compared vaccine mandates to Jim Crow.
“That was only a couple months ago. Our county leadership is saying basic public health measures are akin to Jim Crow. There is a line between our political leadership and something like this happening. Our leadership matters,” Tai Harden-Moore said.
The school district has made headlines for board members wanting to ban “controversial political symbols” including Black Lives Matter and Pride flags at schools.
Elsewhere at a local high school, parents said some students created a Snapchat group chat titled “Slave Trade” that included a faux slave auction for Black classmates. The chat also included photos of students with racist and homophobic slurs.