WTH? Common sense in a public school?

APOPKA, Fla. — A small picture in the 2006 Apopka High School yearbook is raising eyebrows.

It shows a Caucasian student in dark body paint and an Afro wig, WESH 2 News reported.

Several months ago, James Powell dressed up as an Aborigine on Island Day, which was part of Apopka High School’s Spirit Week.

“Would you do it again in retrospect?” WESH 2 News reporter Bob Kealing asked. “Yes, I would do it again. I’m not a racist. It was a hilarious outfit. I would definitely do it again,” Powell said.

When the yearbook came out on Monday, the district confirmed at least one parent thought the outfit looked like an offensive racist caricature. With Powell at our side, we showed the photo to a group of students and none of them took offense.

“You don’t find it offensive?” Kealing asked. “No, not at all,” a student replied. One parent agreed.

“I don’t think it’s racial. If it’s Island Day, he’s doing what the occasion is,” Carolyn Frett said. Apopka High senior council member Kevin Jones said students of different races are able to poke fun at each other and know the difference between a good-natured joke and racism.

“I mean if it was something blatant and racial, they wouldn’t be so supportive of it and laughing. They would kind of shy away from it,” Jones said. “Actually, one of my half-sisters is black, and I live with her. She was cracking up at it too,” Powell said.

The picture is featured among pictures of various theme days from the past school year. A district spokesman said the yearbook staff worked within all the policies of the School Board. In the future, there will be greater sensitivity to the selection of the photos.

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