KKK Mask at School
Parents say teacher let boy make KKK mask as art project; teacher defends project.
A first-grade art project has two parents so upset that they are moving their son to another school in another city.
On Monday 6-year-old Dallas Smith came home wearing a white, cone-shaped mask he made in art class at Winfield-Scott Elementary in Fort Scott, Kansas.
"It appears to look like a Ku Klux Klan hat, which is a heck of a thing to put on a 6-year-old boy," said Barry Smith, Dallas' father.
It was part of a project done in Russ Gordon's art class.
"That was never, never the purpose of the project," Gordon said, referring to Smith's description of Dallas' hat.
To Gordon, art is eye candy.
He uses it to teach the principals of shape, symmetry and texture.
Monday's project was supposed to do just that.
Students designed their own masks with paper.
Gordon showed them a poster with different masks from around the world to give the children ideas.
For 30 years, Gordon's done the mask project without complaint.
"It's just a creative shape that the kids can take a lot of different directions," Gordon said. "I had kids make knights. I had kids make princesses. You can take it all different directions."
Dallas chose his direction.
However, when he came home wearing the mask, his parents were outraged.
"My wife was fearful for my son just because of the symbolism that goes along with this," Barry Smith said.
Smith confronted Winfield-Scott's principal Tuesday morning.
So did the district superintendent.
Gordon is even considering ending the mask project.
Still, Smith and his wife are moving their son to a school in Pittsburg, Kansas.
They believe administrators in Fort Scott need sensitivity training.
Until then, the Smiths believe their son is safer in another environment.