Parents and students at an Ohio high school were outraged after an Advanced Placement government teacher used an edited photo of the beloved cartoon character Dora the Explorer and a prisoner to teach a lesson on voter eligibility Thursday.
A teacher at West Geauga High School in Chesterland, Ohio reportedly showed the image of Dora, who is edited to be taking a mug shot for an “illegal border crossing” and “resisting arrest” in the photo. She also has a black eye and blood running out of her mouth, and she is next to what appears to be a convicted felon. The teacher was trying to show an image of two people who would be ineligible to vote, according to Fox8.
Dora the Explorer is a child, and Nickelodeon, which produced the popular TV show, has declined to comment on her background, according to the BBC.
In a statement West Geauga Local Schools Superintendent Richard Markwardt said “We are investigating the matter related to the politically-insensitive slides allegedly contained in a teacher’s classroom presentation today. he teacher has been placed on leave pending the results of the investigation."
In a statement sent to students and parents, Markwardt said that “The material has been examined, the matter investigated, and the issue is being resolved.” He told The Washington Post that the image was inappropriate, but it was not shown with malicious intent. He said he would not fire the teacher.
“I will not use what I regard as a lapse of judgment as the reason to damage the career of a good teacher,” Markwardt said. “That would be following one mistake with another.”
He told the Washington Post that he will call on staff to honor diversity, and he may recommend training for individual educators.
“I perceive the use of the objectionable image as symptomatic of a general lack of attention to the diversity of individuals in a largely homogeneous school district,” he said.
A parent told Fox8 that she was “outraged” after she saw the photo.
“Seeing that white supremacist juxtaposed with a brown skinned child who has a superimposed black eye, blood coming from her mouth with the offense of illegal border crossing and resisting arrest combined with 666 666666 is 100% inappropriate,” The mother said. Multiple other parents reportedly called the school district to complain.
The meme is approximately 10 years old, according to the Washington Post. It dates back to 2009 when it came to popularity after then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed an immigration bill into law making it a crime not to carry immigration documents. It also gave police the ability to detain people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants.