A high school teacher in Seattle has been put on paid leave after dressing up as Michael Jordan on Halloween.
Math teacher Peter Colino wore a rubber mask, a jersey with Jordan’s number 23, and black gloves to school, KIRO reported.
Colino said he had worn the same costume for 18 years on Halloween as a way to motivate students in his class.
He told them Jordan was coming to visit, then walked in the next day in costume and played a highlight video of Jordan's career.
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“He is, to me, the greatest, I'm going to say, athlete of all time and my whole deal is to honor Michael Jordan,” Colino told KIRO.
A parent issued a complaint after a video of Colino was circulated around the school. The mother, who wished to remain anonymous, received a screenshot from her son and forwarded it to The Stranger.
“He’s never texted me while he was at school, [but] he sent me the picture and I was just floored,” the woman told The Stranger. “I couldn’t even believe the lapse of judgment.”
The principal sent an email to Colino telling him to remove the mask for the rest of the day.
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Some students didn’t see a problem with Colino’s costume.
“I laughed. It was funny. I didn't mind it, seemed cool to me,” said Dillon Mahone, KIRO reported.
The next day, Colino apologized to all his classes and discussed issues of race with them.
He explained how he felt about the decision to put him on administrative leave.
“The difficult part for me is I’ve always done well with trying to bring people together. I teach kids of all backgrounds and I’ve been respected and liked as a teacher,” Colino told KIRO.
In a letter to parents, the principal described Colino’s behavior as being “in opposition to Ingraham’s values of racial diversity and inclusivity and have impacted our students negatively.”
Colino met with the Black Students’ Union to apologize.
“We are all able to learn from this and now people know this kind of thing shouldn't happen. I’m hoping it won’t happen again in the future,” said Union vice president Eden Gevremariam.