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School District Investigating After Art Shown In Sonora High Class Leaves Some Outraged

SONORA (CBS13) - Some parents in Sonora are fired up after an example for a high school art project showed former president Trump and the former first lady in a questionable light.

The screengrab of the example that's been circulating social media is of two side-by-side comparisons of the Grant Wood classic, "American Gothic." On the left-hand side, it's an original image of the artwork. On the right-hand side, there's an image of former President Donald Trump in a KKK hood and former First Lady Melania Trump in a dress with exposed cleavage posing in a similar fashion as the original.

Bridget Johnson says it was shown as an example in her daughter's Sonora high school class assignment two weeks ago.

"The assignment was an art assignment to take an old picture, modify it to modern times," Johnson said.

The example is creating some classroom controversy. Parents are upset that this was an example used during their students' assignment and feel a different one should have been used.

"I don't feel like, at this point, that political views in public schools should be talked about. I feel that's a private matter," Johnson said.

Johnson also added that parents should be the ones to speak with their children about certain political views and they can make the decision where they side on their own.

Other current and former Sonora parents have seen the example and have a similar feeling of frustration.

"She's allowing her personal opinion to dictate how teaches our children which we pay her salary," Oscar Martinez, a parent of two Sonora High School students, said.

"So, why aren't the parents not being advised to the political things that are being taught in a non-politics class?"

"I don't care if it was Trump, which does upset me, or if it was a picture of the Obamas or the Bidens. I don't believe that the politics belong in an art class," Jim Schultz, a former Sonora High School parent and longtime resident, said.

The Sonora Union High School District sent CBS13 a statement saying,

"We are aware of a controversial image that was part of a class assignment.  A screenshot of this image was posted on social media. We are investigating the situation, and as it is a personnel matter, we will not be able to provide further comment. 

"Sonora Union High School District understands that while some curriculum may be controversial in nature, it expects administrators and teachers to exercise professional judgment when deciding whether or not a particular subject or issue will promote student growth and achievement.   

"Sonora Union High School District school does not condone assignments or class discussions that could lend themselves to students feeling unwelcome due to their political views, race, color, ancestry, nationality, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital, pregnancy, or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or genetic information; a perception of one or more of such characteristics; or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

"Each of us, individually and collectively, is responsible for creating and nurturing a learning environment where every child is respected and valued for who they are. Sonora Union High School District stands steadfast in our commitment to foster an inclusive educational environment where every student, teacher, support professional, parent, and community member is treated with dignity and respect. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions."

The artist behind the image that's irking some people is unclear.

CBS13 asked Johnson if the art class teacher had stated with the assignment that they personally made the image of the former President and First Lady. She said she didn't know if that was the case.

The image creating controversy among some parents and others was also shared on a Reddit post a year ago with the title "Trump Gothic."

Some hope that this assignment example can set an example for future assignments.

"I don't want to see anybody fired. I mean that's her job. But, she has to stop pushing political views or showing political things in her classroom," Johnson said.

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