Yearbooks released to seniors at San Pasqual High School in Escondido revealed what some employees were hiding in plain sight all year long.
Some students and parents were outraged when they saw World Language Department faculty donning ponchos, sombreros and fake mustaches in their yearbook photos.
The teachers' names featured the titles Señor and Señora while employee Millie Laurs, who was photographed wearing a black beret and black sunglasses, was addressed Madame.
A statement released by the Escondido Union High School District said the photos were taken in the beginning of the year for use as teacher ID photos.
Two Hispanic parents who spoke with NBC 7 said they weren't offended by the photos, opting to reserve judgement until finding out the intention of teachers.
“It doesn’t look offensive to me," parent Merced Juarez said. Olivia Olalde, fourth from the right in the list of pictures, was Juarez's son's Spanish teacher.
“She’s a very good teacher. She was very strict with them because she wanted them to learn Spanish, to learn the language," Juarez said.
Juarez said she recognized that the photos could have been an attempt by the teachers to celebrate Hispanic culture rather than shame it.
Parent Martin Reyes Garcia wasn't offended either but saw how someone else might be.
“It could be [offensive] because it’s not just for Mexican people, it’s for all the Latino people who speak Spanish and they could feel like they’re trying to make fun of us," he said.
Parent and former San Pasqual High School student Tania Marin said didn’t find the pictures to be harmful.
“I think that lately everything is so sensitive,” she told NBC 7. “If they were teaching Russian and they had a Russian hat, I would find it hilarious.”
Brooke Angaga, a parent in the community, questioned who approved the photos in the first place.
“As leaders in the school, that wasn't thought through very well. I'm sure it went through a lot of hands,” Angaga said.
“San Pasqual High School takes pride in its rich history and diversity," SPHS Principal Casas, said in the statement. "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. We are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure all students, families and staff feel welcome and valued.”
Casas, whose Twitter profile says he was born in Tijuana, Mexico, later tweeted that "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 @EUHSD."
No other information was available.
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