Cache County teens suspended from school for KKK Halloween costumes

Posted at 7:25 PM, Nov 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-06 00:51:38-05

SMITHFIELD -- Two 11th graders were suspended from Sky View High School in Smithfield after wearing Halloween costumes resembling the Ku Klux Klan.

A picture of the KKK costumes hasn't surfaced but faculty and students are still talking about what they saw on Halloween.

"There were robes and there were hoods," said Kirk McCray, who works in human resources at the Cache County School District.

"You couldn't really tell, except they were carrying a torch and I think the torch is what took things too far," said Sky View student Hunter Lundahl.

"I guess they would take it off and hide it so teachers couldn't see," added student Collin Heeps.

When confronted the two students said it was simply a joke.

"The students didn't have any malicious intent, their intent was to be humorous," McCray said.

The joke didn't go over so well.

"I've got some black friends, one of them was very offended by this," Lundahl said.

Adding to the shock, an African American is one of the students involved.

"The fact that people at his own school have to do this, and of his own race, it's just disgusting," Lundahl said.

The two students were told to go home on Halloween then suspended Friday.  One of the boys also plays for the football team and was suspended from Friday's game against Highland High School.

"I don't think they should be suspended, but warned," said student Kade Follett.

But Heeps thinks the action was fair.

"Cause it's really racist," Heeps said.

Perhaps the biggest shock is one of the students' mothers helped create the costume, district officials say.

"That really made me upset.  I mean the mom would've known (that it was offensive)," said Joel Lehi. Organista Organista is on the student diversity board at the University of Utah.  On Halloween, the group launched a campaign against racist or offensive costumes, showing posters as examples.  He feels the Sky View incident clearly shows a need for more awareness and dialogue in the community.

"Of course I think the principal did a good job, talking to the parents and the students but i was really appalled with the parents," Organista said.

The Salt Lake chapter of the NAACP is also looking into the incident and is surprised and disappointed a parent was involved in creating the costume.