Watch CBS News

Language Teachers Blamed For 'Culturally Insensitive' Yearbook Photos

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (CBS Local) — Multiple teachers at a California high school are under fire for taking yearbook pictures that some people are calling "culturally insensitive and in poor judgment."

The photographs, which appeared in the San Pasqual High School yearbook, show the school's World Language faculty dressed up in attire related to the language they taught. The photos show six teachers wearing sombreros and ponchos while holding up false mustaches. The captions include "Senor" and "Senora" in front of the teachers' names.

A seventh photo shows a teacher wearing gloves and a beret while peering over sunglasses. The caption includes "Madame" in front of her name.

"It came across as culturally mocking," Marisol Clark-Ibanez, a faculty director of The National Latino Research Center, told CBS affiliate KFMB. "It also came across as maybe disconnected from what it is to have Mexican heritage, what is it to live in Southern California [and] in Escondido in particular."

San Pasqual High's yearbook, "The Golden Legend," was released Monday to senior students, according to the district.

"It has come to our attention [the 2019 yearbook] contained photos from the World Language Department that are culturally insensitive and in poor judgment," the Escondido Union High School District said Tuesday in a statement.

The pictures were taken at the beginning of the school year to be used as teacher ID photos, according to the district.

"Administrators have discussed the issue with SPHS staff," the statement continued. "Principal Martin Casas and his administrative team are taking precautions to ensure a similar situation does not occur in the future."

"Cultural appropriation is offensive, even if the intent is not to offend, and has no place in our school. We have a lot of work to do," Casas said in a tweet.

Some parents are withholding judgment until they know the intention of the teachers.

"They could be offensive if they're making fun of us. But it could be something honorable if they're trying to do honor to the Mexican culture," Martin Reyes, whose son goes to San Pasqual, told KGTV. "It would be better without the big mustache and hats."

Merced Juarez said her son's Spanish teacher, Olivia Olalde, cared a lot of the language and the culture.

"She's very strict you know but she wants them to learn Spanish to learn their language," she said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.