Newberg Elementary School staff member comes to work in blackface to protest vaccine mandate


A staff member from Mabel Rush Elementary School came to work on Black Friday, saying she was Rosa Parks and protesting against mandatory vaccinations, according to a report from The Newberg Graphic.

This report indicated that another school staff member identified the woman as Lauren Pefferle, a special education teacher who darkened her face with iodine.

The school district said it would not release the staff member’s name.

“I am horrified, angry and ashamed that this has happened, like almost every other member of staff,” Newberg Superintendent Joe Morelock said in a statement. “Students of color in Newberg deserve so much more. This flies in the face of everything I and the vast majority of the staff at NSD believe, and is unfathomably offensive. “

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, district spokesman Gregg Koskela said no students witnessed the incident.

Koskela said he couldn’t comment on specific inquiries and therefore couldn’t say what might happen to the employee in question, but added: “Our range of responses includes termination as an option for certain situations. . “

The racist incident came to light as a conservative majority in the Newberg School Board prepares a town hall on a policy that would effectively ban the Pride and Black Lives Matter symbols in classrooms.

Supporters of the ban, including parents who testify in favor of it and board members seeking to institute it, have consistently rebuffed accusations of systemic racism in the Yamhill County community and branded the incidents racist punctual.

But last week, The Newberg Graphic reported that at least one student at Newberg High School was part of a Snapchat group called “Slave Trade,” in which teens from different parts of the country share racist, homophobic and violent messages. , sometimes specifically targeting black people. students.

“The employee has been removed from the location and HR has put the employee on administrative leave,” the Newberg School District said in a statement acknowledging the blackface incident on Monday. “The Newberg Public School Administration condemns all expressions of racism.”

“It is important to remember how Blackface was used to distort black communities and cause harm,” the statement continued. “We recognize the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention.”

The district said all reported incidents were taken seriously and investigated.

“We continue to work for a safe and welcoming environment in our schools, free from bullying and reducing mental, emotional and physical damage,” the statement said. “Blackface has no place in our schools and we are committed to creating spaces that every student belongs to as we move forward together on our mission to educate students. “

Speaking at the press conference, Morelock said: “When harmful actions like this surface and the traumatic impacts of those actions are realized, all of us, children and adults, can work towards improving the environment. and the supports we employ for each student, regardless of who they are.

“I am absolutely determined to do this job. Let’s do it together, ”he added.

Eder Campuzano contributed to this report.

– Lizzy Acker

503-221-8052, [email protected], @lizzzyacker

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