A teacher at a Toronto high school has been placed on home assignment after he showed up to work wearing blackface as part of his Halloween costume on Friday.
Around 9:15 a.m., a student in Gorian Surlan's ninth grade class sent his mother pictures of Surlan's 'Halloween costume'. In the photos, Surlan is clearly wearing a full face of black makeup.
Teacher Said 'He Just Put Some Makeup On' Because He 'Didn't Have an Idea'
The student's mother, who asked to remain anonymous, asked if Surlan had said anything about his costume. Her son reported that, when asked directly, Surlan said he "just put some makeup on" because he "didn't have an idea."
In a letter later addressed to parents, guardians and students of Parkdale Collegiate Institute, located just south of Queen Street and east of Roncesvalles Avenue, Principal Julie Ardell said that a "number of students" alerted the vice principal that a white staff member was in blackface.
"Caricatures of peoples' race or culture are not appropriate and are offensive and hurtful. Regardless of whether this was intended or not, it was racist and dehumanizing," Ardell wrote.
Surlan Placed on Leave Pending Investigation
As soon as the students reported Surlan to the authorities, the teacher was told to wash their face as to "not cause further harm." The school said it has since filed a report with the Toronto District School Board while Surlan was placed on paid home assignment pending an investigation into the incident.
"On behalf of Parkdale CI, I acknowledge and regret the harm this incident has caused to students, staff and families and our shared school climate," Ardell said in a statement. "While we have begun the work of addressing anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination, it is clear that we must do more."
In the wake of the incident, a Change.org petition has also been created to urge the Toronto District School Board to address racism and discrimination they say exists in the board's classrooms.