ASHLAND, Wis. -

There is growing political and even racial anger in Ashland involving some high school seniors and their homecoming float.

A video posted on Facebook shows the float with a make-shift wall separating student dressed as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from students who dressed up to portray what they consider to be Mexican citizens.

The float was recorded by a resident from Ashland, Xristobal Luis Ramirez Maso, who says he’s Mexican American. You can view the video and his post by clicking here:

As of late Sunday, the video had more than 500 shares and 45,000 views on Facebook.

In a statement Saturday morning, Ashland Superintended Keith Hiltz released the following station on the district’s Facebook page:

“This is superintendent Keith Hilts apologizing for any pain caused by the senior float depicting Trump and several Mexican citizens behind a wall. We will take this opportunity to engage our students in a mature conversation about race and media and unintended consequences.”

And late Sunday, FOX 21 obtained a copy of a letter from Hiltz that was emailed throughout the district.

Dear students, parents, staff and community:

On Friday, one of our homecoming floats offended many of our community members and I apologize for any pain that was caused. The float in question represented Donald Trump on one side of a wall and several of our students portraying people of Hispanic heritage in less than flattering attire on the other side of the wall.

How could this happen? I approved a float theme of "Trump the T-Birds". I was hoping that students were interested in using current political events in the parade. I did not expect any racially slanted messages. I am sorry that this happened. If I had it to do over again, we would have more closely supervised students' work. This was my fault for not ensuring closer supervision. This is particularly sad because we work so hard to make all students feel welcome in our schools and this one event has undone so much good work.

While I cannot undo this event, we will work to make this a teachable moment for students and staff. Specifically, we will have some mature conversations about race and ethnicity, media and unintended consequences. Further, we will work as a staff to tighten up our supervision of our students during these important events.

It is vital that we all work together to make the best of this unfortunate event. The School District of Ashland will work hard to regain the trust of our community. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at either 682-7080 or via email at khilts@sdak12.net.

Sincerely,

Keith Hilts, Ph.D.
Superintendent
School District of Ashland