A 6-year-old boy in Fort Scott, Kans., came home on Monday with an art-class project that shocked and unnerved his parents: a KKK hood. The boy's parents were so outraged that they removed their child from the school.
Dallas Smith, a first-grade student at Winfield-Scott Elementary, came home wearing a white KKK-fashioned hood that he had made in art class under the guidance of teacher Russ Gordon.
"It appears to look like a Ku Klux Klan hat, which is a heck of a thing to put on a 6-year-old boy," Dallas' father, Barry Smith, told NBC News. The art instructor, who has been teaching his craft for 30 years, claims that art is eye candy; he uses it to teach the principals of shape, symmetry and texture.
Gordon says that students had free reign to design their own masks with paper. A poster was used to inspire the class and give them ideas to create their own visions for the masks.
He also says that in all of his teaching years, not once has he experienced any negativity from the projects he helped his students create: "It's just a creative shape that the kids can take a lot of different directions," he said. "I had kids make knights. I had kids make princesses.
You can take it all different directions." Instead, the teacher is pointing the finger at the 6-year-old child, saying Dallas himself chose the art direction he took. Dallas' parents, however, aren't buying Gordon's explanations.
When Dallas came home wearing a hat that look like a KKK hood, quite naturally his parents were not only puzzled but livid: "My wife was fearful for my son, just because of the symbolism that goes along with this," Smith said.
When Smith confronted the school's principal and district superintendent the following morning, they apologized. Suffice it to say, the Smiths took their son out of Winfield-Scott Elementary school and moved him in to a "safer" school environment in Pittsburg, Kans. The Smiths feel that the powers-that-be in their former school district are in dire need of sensitivity training. Meanwhile, Gordon is contemplating ending the mask project for good.