A first-grade teacher of Walcott Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa, is currently being investigated by the school district for wearing blackface.
“I cannot clearly articulate how offensive and appalling it is to people of color,” Linda Hayes, vice president for the state Department of Education board, told Quad-City Times. “All I can say is it’s very sad, and totally unacceptable.”
32-year-old Megan Luloff is facing massive backlash for wearing blackface to a Halloween party at the Walcott American Legion on Friday night. She and her friends dressed up as the characters from the movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” and she of course chose to be Lafawnduh, a Black character from the film.
Several photos of the Davenport teacher wearing blackface surfaced all over social media and sparked outrage among people.
“With every stroke of her make-up puff she had the opportunity to rethink her decision to show up like this, to measure it in the context of history,” said Betty C. Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP Conference of Branches. “She didn’t.”
The Davenport School District said Luloff is currently under investigation although she was at a “non-school related event.” The union representative and UniServ director at Iowa State Education Association, Toby Paone, noted that an investigation would consist of interviewing the teacher, the people at the party and any other district employees who may have been present at the event. The district will then determine whether or not the incident was an unfounded or founded complaint, if founded then the employee would be reprimanded.
Art Tate, the elementary school’s superintendent, wrote in an email, “The wearing of blackface is never appropriate in any circumstance by any person.”
Andrews said depictions of blackface “deliver messages of fear and trauma.” She said it’s sad that the incident involved a person who’s supposed to protect young children.
“The revelation that the woman in blackface is a teacher who is expected to provide a safe and equitable classroom environment for all children is very disconcerting,” said Andrews.
The school is currently under state supervision because of the extreme amount of minority students who were recommended for special education and were the brunt of disciplinary actions. The board said their data suggests “they’re just treated differently in several areas.”
Hayes added, “We are working very hard with professionals from across the country and within the state to assist with the problem of disproportionality, and one of our own is fueling the fire with blatant racism.”
The school board issued the following statement:
“The district was very recently made aware of these images of a district employee at a non-school-related event, and an internal investigation is currently ongoing. The board does not condone the insensitivity these images depict and is very disappointed something like this is now connected to our school community.”