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High School Principal suspended over student’s Nazi costume during Halloween costume contest 

High School Principal suspended over student’s Nazi costume during Halloween costume contest 

A Chicago high school principal has been suspended over his handling of a student who wore a German soldier’s uniform and gave a Nazi salute onstage during a Halloween costume contest.


In a picture from the school’s Halloween competition on October 31 that was shared on Twitter, Jones College Preparatory Principal Joseph Powers was seen standing next to the student wearing the offending costume.

The student is seen in a disturbing video that was also posted on Twitter, goose-stepping across a stage and doing the Nazi salute while audience members booed him.

Powers was immediately notified by troubled students about the boy, but he explained to them that the student was just dressed as an East German soldier from the Communist era.

The German uniform and the Nazi salute by the student appeared to have caused more harm to students and staff members than Powers anticipated.

A staff member who was angry with Powers for not doing anything about the incident told Block Club Chicago that one Jewish and queer student was so distraught by the display that they took a mental-health day off after the contest. The student said the uniform-wearing boy has made racist comments in the past.

How Joseph Powers Responded

In response to the incident, Powers initially said, “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. In this situation, it certainly appears this was not the intent of the Halloween costume,” he said.


After several backlash, Powers later admitted that the display by the student who wore a German soldier’s costume and gave the Nazi salute during the Halloween costume contest did indeed cause harm to both students and staff members.

“Let me say clearly and plainly that what occurred caused harm to many of our students and staff who recognized this as an act of anti-Semitism. Let me also say clearly and plainly that intolerance, bigotry, and bias-based behaviors have no place in our school,” he said.

“We want you to know that we are addressing this situation directly with the member of our school community who wore the costume in accordance with protocols for processing bias-based harm,” he added.

However, the Chicago Public Schools announced on Friday that Powers has been suspended.

In a statement, the schools chief Pedro Martinez said, “As many of you may have heard, seen, or read, there was an incident earlier this week where a member of one of our school communities wore a German military uniform to school as a Halloween costume — an act that was widely recognized by many students, staff and members of our broader CPS community as anti-Semitic.”

“This incident caused harm to many students and staff, and it is not in line with our values as a school district,” he added.

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In a statement, the Chicago Teachers Union also condemned the incident, saying the principal has been “plagued for years with charges that include persistent racial intolerance.”


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