A New Mexico teacher is in hot water for allegedly telling an African-American high school student to take off a Santa Claus hat and beard because the teacher said Santa is supposed to be white.
The teacher, who has not been identified, was put on administrative leave on Monday, according to ABC News affiliate KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M.
Christopher Rougier, a ninth-grade student in Rio Rancho, N.M., was dressed as Santa for a holiday party when his teacher told him to remove the hat because of the color of his skin, the student’s father said.
Michael Rougier said the teacher told his son during the event on Thursday that he couldn’t be Santa because the teen is black and Santa is white.
“He was embarrassed. He was literally embarrassed,” Michael Rougier told KOAT-TV. He said his son was so ashamed that he now refuses to touch Christmas decorations.
Officials at Cleveland High School said the teacher had been disciplined but Michael Rougier said that wasn’t enough.
“He needs to be fired,” he told KOAT-TV. “For him to make a comment like that, there has to be a minimum prejudice in him and we don’t have room for that.”
It’s the latest incident in the Christmas controversy regarding the color of St. Nick’s skin that started last week when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly sparked a national “Is Santa black or white” fight on national TV.
“It’s ridiculous,” Kelly said. “Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa. By the way, for all the kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
The declaration caused a flurry of late-night jokes on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Colbert Report.”
On Friday, however, Kelly said her comment was a joke made in response to Aisha Harris’ Slate magazine column asking whether it’s time for white Santa to get a makeover.