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Principal to Meet With Parents of Students Upset by Blackface Skit

October 02, 1988

The principal of El Modena High School in Orange will meet Monday with parents of students who were upset by a pep rally skit that featured cheerleaders in blackface.

Several black students told school officials that they found a part of Friday's rally racially offensive. The student body president impersonated Stevie Wonder and the cheerleaders performed a Jackson Five song in Afro wigs and blackface.

"We think it was an isolated incident," said Russell Barrios, board member of the Orange Unified School District. "There wasn't any malice of intent and those involved feel very, very remorseful about it. They apologized to the offended students."

Barrios said Saturday that he had spoken with some of the parents upset about the skit and that a meeting is scheduled Monday between them and the principal.

The blackface routines were added at the "last minute" by the students and were not approved beforehand by the cheerleader adviser or the principal, Barrios said.

"Naturally, we expect all public performances to be in good taste," he said. "It's something we'll take a closer look at and tighten up policies where appropriate. And we'll probably have some type of sensitivity training for the students and administration."

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