New Mexico teacher on leave after telling black student Santa is white

The March of Santas includes Santas of all shapes, sizes and colors. Credit: Getty
The March of Santas includes Santas of all shapes, sizes and colors. Credit: Getty Images

A New Mexico high school teacher who questioned an African American student’s decision to dress up as Santa Claus on the grounds that the mythical North Pole figure was white has been put on paid administrative leave, an official said on Monday.

Students at Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, just north of Albuquerque, were told last week they could dress up as holiday characters. But when Christopher Rougier, an African American ninth grader, showed up dressed as Santa Claus, he was called out by the teacher.

“Christopher, don’t you know Santa Claus is white? Why are you wearing that?” the student’s father, Michael Rougier, told local television station KOB, relating what he described as the teacher’s remarks.

The boy’s father said his son felt ashamed and embarrassed by the remark, which came to light amid an ongoing media spat over Santa’s skin color after a Fox anchor asserted last week on the air that Santa Claus was white.

“And by the way, for all of you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing maybe we should also have a black Santa,” Fox anchor Megyn Kelly said. “But, you know, Santa is what he is.”

The remarks by Kelly, which prompted a social media firestorm, came in response to a Slate.com article arguing that Santa should not be defined as a member of a specific race, suggesting he be pictured instead as a penguin.

In the New Mexico incident, a statement released by the school said the teacher involved had made a dumb mistake and had apologized to the family.

“This situation involves a teacher recently hired by Cleveland High who made – and admits he made – a stupid mistake. The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made,” said Kim Vesely, Director of Parent, Community, and Staff Engagement for Rio Rancho Public Schools.

Vesely said the teacher, who has not been publicly identified and could thus not be reached for comment, had been put on paid administrative leave. Per his parent’s request, the student has been removed from the teacher’s class.

Rougier told KOB: “If it’s not for parents like me in interracial families to stand up and say it’s time to stop this… it’s time to stop. I have to fight for my boys.”

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.