Jones College Prep students in Chicago are planning a walk-out protest over their school’s handling of a student who appeared in a Nazi costume during Halloween, according to the Chicago Tribune. A student came dressed in a German military uniform. Then they proceeded to goose-step across a stage during a costume contest and gave a Nazi salute.
Understandably, students and parents were upset. Principal Joseph Powers, at the time, seemed to downplay the severity of the costume. First, Powers sent an email to staff and faculty saying that the student’s uniform was “an East German (communist era) border guard uniform probably from the 1980s.”
From Block Club Chicago:
“I tried to explain the context and period of the uniform to the students who spoke with me, but apparently, the student who wore the uniform may have told people it was from the 1940s. I spoke with him this afternoon and explained the same thing and the inferences others may have drawn,” Powers wrote.
Then, Powers sent an email to parents on Nov. 2nd that didn’t seem to make matters much better.
From the Chicago Tribute:
“Many of our students and staff came to school on Monday, October 31, dressed in Halloween costumes. We held a costume contest in the afternoon during Ac Lab, which was fun and well-received. Amid all the other costumes, a member of our school community wore a military surplus army uniform. Staff and students expressed their concerns about the uniform, believing that it represented an expression of antisemitism. Additionally, a video of the costume parade has since appeared on social media.
Realizing his mistake, Powers sent a second email to parents stating he should “have handled the incident with “greater care” and should have communicated more clearly with the school community about the nature of the incident.” Just this Friday, Chicago Public Schools announced Powers had been “removed of principal duties, effective immediately, pending the results” of an investigation.”
However, this incident seems like a pattern in a long-festering history concerning problems with Jones College Prep. Last October, a theater teacher was dismissed over student concerns about inappropriate content within a play. Many in the community called for Powers to be fired for potential violations of federal sex discrimination laws connected to its sports teams. A Jones Prep alum also spoke to Block Club Chicago about Black students’ readily bringing up incidents of racism to Powers and being met with indifference.