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Three Serra High Employees Suspended Over Blackface Halloween Costumes

A coach, an assistant coach and a teacher are suspended without pay for two days after being spotted dressed as members of the Jamaican bobsled team depicted in the movie "Cool Runnings."

Photo by Kyla Calvert

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten (center) disclosed that two Serra High School coaches who wore blackface to a San Diego State football game as part of a Halloween costume have been disciplined at a press conference, nov. 1, 2013. She was joined by Tammy Gillies, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (left) and Lei-Chala Wilson, president of the NCAACP San Diego Branch.

Photo credit: 10News

Two of the men with their faces painted black and dressed as the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1993 movie "Cool Runnings" are allegedly teachers are Junipero Serra High School.

Three Serra High School employees who dressed in blackface at a recent event have been suspended, San Diego Unified School District officials announced Friday.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten said they expressed remorse and apologized for causing offense with the costumes, which they wore to a San Diego State football game. She called the incident a teachable moment.

“Being able to be civil and be sensitive when there are multiple perspectives is really important as an education system," she said. "To engage in critical discourse and critical thinking about a situation where there are multiple perspectives and multiple viewpoints.”

The San Diego branch of the NAACP initially called for the coaches to be fired. But branch president Lei-Chala Wilson joined Marten at the Friday press conference. She said they see blackface costumes every year so she’s happy the district took action.

“We had slavery for a lot of years, we eventually got rid of that," she said. "We had bias against women, they couldn’t even vote. We got rid of that. As a community we need to work together, so this is a start and that’s why I’m happy about it.”

Marten said it was the Serra High School principal’s decision to suspend the trio and that diversity training will continue at all district schools.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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