A school staff member in the Portland suburb of Newberg, Oregon, has been placed on administrative leave after showing up for work in full blackface.
Calling herself Rosa Parks, Lauren Pefferle, a special education assistant, darkened her face with iodine and said she was doing so in protest of a vaccine mandate for all school district staff. According to a fellow staff member who reported the incident and asked to remain anonymous, Pefferle explained that she “intended to look like Rosa Parks” and have her actions serve as a protest of a vaccine mandate.
Pefferle was soon removed from school grounds and placed on administrative leave, according to a district statement.
“Last Friday, one of our employees reported for work in Blackface,” the district’s statement said. “The employee was removed from the location and (human resources) has placed the employee on administrative leave. The administration of Newberg Public Schools condemns all expressions of racism.
“It is important to remember how Blackface has been used to misrepresent Black communities and do harm. We acknowledge the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention.
“Each incident report is always taken seriously as we diligently follow our policies to investigate and take appropriate action. We continue to work towards a safe and welcoming environment in our schools that is free from bullying and reduces mental, emotional and physical harm as we move forward together in our mission of educating students.”
The Blackface incident comes after a Newberg High School student was recently connected to a racist “slave trade” Snapchat group, a protest occurred in solidarity with Newberg’s Black students by a visiting girls soccer team, and the school board’s months-long controversial attempt to ban Black Lives Matter and Pride displays among other perceived “political” symbols.
I’m sorry, but what the hell is this!?
I just moved to Newberg in March & the dysfunction I’ve seen here is beyond gross. @NewbergSchools I don’t care what that union says, remove that teacher immediately & permanently. Then, get your damn house in order- this is disgusting. pic.twitter.com/KJLs8I8Hei
— Danny Marang (@DannyMarang) September 20, 2021
[This is a developing story, please check back for updates]