MODESTO (CBS13) – A photo being called “offensive” is circulating at a Modesto High School, and it has the principal calling for change.

The photo was re-posted on the private school’s social media page.

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“It’s absolutely ridiculous there’s no good excuse,” said one parent, Andrew Sampson.

It shows two students on Halloween, one student dressed as a police officer, “arresting” another student, wearing a serape — a traditional symbol of Mexican culture.

Some parents are now questioning how​ this post ended up being shared on the school’s own social media pages.

“I know it should not have happened,” Sampson said.

The school Principal Bruce Sawyer says he learned about the incident last week and the post was immediately taken down and promised big change.

In a statement, he said, “Central Catholic High School will act immediately to host workshops and discussions so that our students better understand what we expect in terms of sensitivity and kindness to all of our community.”

Parents are disappointed to hear it took so long to take action, saying the diverse community is what drew them to this school.

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“With the diversity here, it’s one of the things we like about here,” said Sampson.

President of the Latino Community Roundtable, Aaron Anguiano says the issue is bigger than one school, and one photo.

“The children might not capture the offensiveness of it because they’re young. The staff and the school should know better,” he said.

He says every school in the district needs cultural sensitivity training for both staff and students, calling for diversity value and inclusion to be a part of the curriculum.

“Everybody has to recognize the mistake, own it, and move forward,” she said.

Here is the full statement from Principal Bruce Sawyer:

Last week I learned that inappropriate photos were posted to one of our Central Catholic social media accounts. The photos depict students in Halloween costumes and engaged in behaviors that are offensive and run counter to our school’s mission to be a place that is welcoming and respectful to all.

I wish to offer my deepest apologies for this. I am personally distressed not only by the costumes, but am disappointed that neither I nor our staff took appropriate action when it was happening. And, of course, we must address the fact that these photos were posted to a school account.

I assure you that we are addressing these questions in a meaningful and focused way. While I cannot discuss personnel matters in detail, I can tell you that I take this matter very seriously and intend to remind everyone involved of the responsibilities we have to live up to our promises of respect and care for every student and family.

Central Catholic High School will act immediately to host workshops and discussions so that our students better understand what we expect in terms of sensitivity and kindness to all of our community. And, we will conduct an audit of all our social media accounts to better understand how this could have occurred and to ensure nothing like it happens in the future. Further, I have called for Central Catholic High School to implement new social media guidelines to ensure that all posts on all officially sanctioned social media accounts are consistent with our school values.

 

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These actions are the beginning of how we address this matter, not the end. The work of living up to the standards we set for ourselves is something we must do daily, and always. At Central Catholic, we strive to hold ourselves to the highest standards of social responsibility, but in this instance we have fallen far short and for that, I am truly sorry.”