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A California teacher on leave after being accused of mocking Native Americans

Teachers have been suspended after being caught on video dancing and chanting while wearing false Native American headdresses.

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Credit: Taylor Wilcox

Teachers have been suspended after being caught on video dancing and chanting while wearing false Native American headdresses.

Candace Reed, a teacher at John W. North High School in Riverside, California, screamed “SOH-CAH-TOA” while wearing a faux feather headdress in the video to help her pupils remember the trigonometric lecture. One of the teachers is identified on social media as Candace Reed. More than five million people have viewed Reed, an audio clip recorded by a Native American student in mathematics class. It is reported that the student filmed because he felt that violence was being committed against him. He also felt that he had the right to record what happened.

According to a statement released by Riverside Unified School District on Thursday (Oct. 21), Reed has been placed on leave following the incident. The statement read, “A recording of a teacher has been widely shared online.” Such behavior, the statement concluded, was an offensive portrayal of Native American cultures. The teacher’s actions are not in line with district values. We have placed the teacher on leave while we conduct an investigation.”

Despite valuing diversity, equity and inclusion, the Riverside Unified School District does not condone any activity against these values, according to a statement from the district. It is our strong commitment to establish policies and practices that reflect the rich ethnic and racial diversity of our district and the region at large. As a staff, we are committed to regaining your trust by working with families, students, staff, and community members.”

In a statement, Riverside City Teachers Association president Laura Boling expressed disappointment about the situation. She said that, “We value the privacy and security of all our students, and we do not condone actions that alienate, harm and threaten Indigenous students’ learning environments,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

A California law was passed earlier this month requiring students to take ethnic studies or social justice courses in order to graduate from high school.

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