Alleged Nazi uniform worn by student on Halloween causes firestorm at Jones College Prep

A Jones College High School student who wore a German soldier’s uniform to school for Halloween caused an outcry because many thought it was a Nazi soldier’s outfit.

Upset students pointed out the costume to their principal, Joe Powers, but Powers explained to the students that the boy was dressed as a communist-era East German soldier, Powers wrote in a memo to staff Monday.

“I tried to explain the context and time period of the uniform to the students who spoke to me, but apparently the student wearing the uniform could tell people it was from the 1940s,” Powers wrote.

A video of a student goose-stepping during a school Halloween parade — accompanied by a chorus of whistles — has since gone viral on social media.

In an email to parents Thursday, Powers acknowledged that the situation should have been handled differently.

“As more information has come to light, including additional video of the incident and conversations with our staff and students, we understand the impact this has had on our community and recognize that we should have taken the incident more seriously and communicated more clearly with the school community about the nature of the incident,” Powers said.

“Let me be clear and clear that what happened hurt many of our students and staff who saw it as an act of anti-Semitism. Let me also state clearly and plainly that intolerance, bigotry and bigotry have no place at our school,” Powers said.

Cassie Cresswell, who has a child at Jones’ school and is a former local school board president, said Powers should have immediately made the student change into his costume and called the student’s parents to have a serious discussion.

“I’m very concerned,” Creswell said. “I’ve seen the rise of right-wing extremism in the suburbs for some time, and it’s a real thing, and the connection to actual physical violence is a real thing, and for the school to respond the way it did, it’s very troubling.”

Special support staff were to be at the school this week and safe spaces would be available so “students can process the trauma they have experienced,” Powers said in an email to parents.

On Friday, the Chicago teachers union called for Powers to resign.

“We are calling on him to resign — and if he refuses, for CPS to remove him from his leadership position at Jones,” CTU said in a statement.

Students are scheduled to walk out on Monday in protest against racial and ethnic discrimination at the school.

Yamali Rhodes, a senior associate at Jones, plans to attend.

“I’m a little disappointed with the way the administration responded,” said Rodas, who heads the school’s Latino Student Association. “They should have left him aside and talked to him about why it was inappropriate.”

A CPS spokesperson said in an email on Friday that “the celebration of Halloween is meant to build a sense of community, not to cause harm based on bias. School and district leaders are working together to resolve this issue and will keep the Jones community informed of any updates.”

This isn’t the first time Powers has found himself in a controversial situation at Jones, an elite, selective school located in the South Loop.

Earlier this year, he survived an attempt to oust him from the local school board, which is made up in part of parents.

Earlier this year, several members of the group, including Creswell, alleged that Powers violated district residency requirements by maintaining a primary home in Missouri, failed to properly address complaints of inappropriate teacher behavior and fostered a hostile environment for students and staff of color and transgender students. and gender nonconforming students.

In April, CPS director-general Pedro Martinez said of their investigation into the case: “At this time, there is insufficient evidence of misconduct by Mr. Powers on which to pursue an action for compulsory dismissal.”

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