Teachers spark controversy after posing in sombreros, ponchos in yearbook photos

Kerry Justich

A high school in California is embroiled in controversy after distributing its yearbook on Monday, which included photos of a number of teachers photographed wearing “insensitive” outfits.

The photos in question are of six world language teachers at San Pasqual High School in Escondido, Calif., who wore sombreros, ponchos and mustaches for their class pictures. All six teach Spanish at the high school and seemingly wore the attire to represent their subject.

Their names were all displayed with the title Señor or Señora preceding their last names. The seventh teacher pictured, who wore a black beret, is said to be a French teacher and was addressed as Madame.

However, it’s the Mexican attire that has received unwanted attention, which led the school to address the photos in a statement just one day after distributing the yearbooks.

“The 2019 yearbook for San Pasqual High School, ‘The Golden Legend,’ was released yesterday (5/20/19) to senior students. It has come to our attention it contained photos from the World Language Department that are culturally insensitive and in poor judgement. The photos are a collection of pictures taken at the beginning of the year for use as teacher ID photos,” the statement sent to Yahoo Lifestyle reads. “Administrators have discussed the issue with SPHS staff. Principal Martin Casas and his administrative team are taking precautions to ensure a similar situation does not occur in the future.”

Principal Casas provided an additional statement saying “San Pasqual High School takes pride in its rich history and diversity.”

“It is our intent to use this situation as a tool to remind students, as well as staff, to remember the impacts of their words and actions,” Casas’s statement continues. “We are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure all students, families and staff feel welcome and valued.”

A student, who decided to remain anonymous, told San Diego news station KNSD that she was “offended and somewhat disgusted to think that this is what some of the foreign language teachers are considering a representation of some cultures.”

Two parents at the school, Merced Juarez and Martin Reyes Garcia, told the outlet that they weren’t offended by the yearbook photos. However, Garcia admitted that he can see why some people would be.

“it’s not just for Mexican people,” Garcia said, “It’s for all the Latino people who speak Spanish and they could feel like they’re trying to make fun of us.”

Principial Casas addressed the incident on Twitter Tuesday, writing, “Cultural appropriation is offensive, even if the intent is not to offend, and has no place in our school. We have a lot of work to do“We have a lot of work to do.”

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