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An Arizona teacher is on paid administrative leave after a Christian student reported being offended by the teacher’s decision to dress as the devil during the school’s Halloween spirit week. Christian student Nathaniel Hamlet, a sophomore at Mesa High School, noted one of his teachers allegedly dressed with devil horns and pitchfork and telling students to “Hail Satan.” “Some people thought it was funny, some people didn’t like it, some people were like ‘whatever,’ they just blew it off,” Hamlet told a local news station. Hamlet, however, was bothered by the costume. “I said, ‘Don’t do that to me’ and I pushed [the pitchfork] away, maybe three or four times and he still said it and still did it,” he recalled. 

He brought up the incident to his father, Chris Hamlet, a former school board candidate, who then brought it up to the high school principal. “I was livid because I am a Christian as well, obviously. What really tipped it over for me is, he kept telling him no, and he and the teacher kept persisting,” said Chris Hamlet. The teacher was then put on leave after the incident. A statement from the school read:

Mesa Public Schools administration was notified of the alleged incident at Mesa High School late Wednesday afternoon after school hours. Our Human Resources department began the investigation Thursday morning and placed the teacher on paid administrative leave pending the result of the investigation. The investigation remains ongoing.

Nathaniel stated he felt the leave was fair, though he felt the teacher’s persistence could potentially warrant firing. His father agreed. “I don’t think it’s OK, joking or not. If you’re gonna keep the Christian stuff out, then you got to keep the devil-worshipping stuff out,” he said. Other parents interviewed about the incident agreed that they did not like the way the teacher handled the situation, but that firing went too far. 

As for the teacher in question, he defended his actions, stating it was part of Halloween Spirit week, which was dynamic duos that day. He stated a teacher in the next classroom was dressed as an angel. “Participating in spirit weeks like this is a way for me to engage with my students and bring fun to my classroom. It’s truly not any more complicated than that.”

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