Controversy Over Student’s MLK Costume

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A second grade student at Meridian Ranch Elementary School was told to remove makeup he wore to turn his face black as he dressed up for a project in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The project was a part of the second grade’s living wax museum.

Sean King was assigned to portray Dr. King by his teacher.

"All I heard was, 'Wow, your costume is awesome,'" Sean said.

His parents Michelle and Anthony went to see Sean's presentation about Martin Luther King, and were told there was a problem.
The principal said the face paint had to go.

"They wanted me to clean up immediately or leave," said Sean.

Michelle said she had to talk to the principal and two other District 49 staff when an employee at the school took offense to a costume that didn't give her a second thought.

"It's embarrassing," she said. "It's sad for the kids and sad for Sean because he's a very good student. He really thinks of school very highly.

Michelle said the three D-49 staff couldn't say if Sean would be punished if he didn't take off his makeup. She later took Sean home from school.

"I think they took it farther than what it had to be," Michelle said.

A District 49 spokesperson says the complaint led the principal to determine the costume was a disruption.

"When something becomes offensive or distracting, that's when it falls under the board policy of dress code, and making sure if something is distracting that it's removed from the learning environment," said Stephanie Wurtz-Meredith Wednesday afternoon.

Michelle said Sean planned to wash the paint off as soon as he was done with his presentation. She doesn’t know if his grade will be affected.

Michelle said Wednesday there's about a week left of school, and Sean will be there to finish the school year.