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McClain High School in Greenfield, Ohio issued an apology on its website over the weekend for the appearance of a “Trail of Tears” banner before the Tigers’ football game Friday against the Hillsboro Indians—but quietly deleted Spirit Week photos depicting students dressed as slaves, Chinese laborers, and in stereotypical Native American costumes from its online photo gallery.

The statement reads:

At the final varsity football game of the year, a horrific mistake was made. A sign was created out of ignorance, not hate. There are no words to express our deepest sympathy to those of Native American and African American descent. We also owe a sincere apology to the communities, families and students of Hillsboro, Greenfield, and beyond. We are currently completing an internal investigation of how this deplorable situation arose. We will take appropriate steps once we have all of the necessary information. By partnering with local organizations, McClain High School will immediately use this moment to further educate our students on the atrocities faced by both the Native American and African American cultures.


That wasn’t the only change made to McClain High’s website over the weekend, though. Someone modified the school’s online photo gallery (which features images of both the historic 1915 school building and student events like Homecoming) to remove photos of this semester’s Spirit Week. Here are some photos from that now-deleted gallery page:


(How did we get these photos? Because while the school district deleted the Spirit Week gallery page, they forgot to delete the photos themselves.)


We want to make clear that we don’t hold the kids responsible for any of this. High school kids do dumb shit—we all did—and it’s the responsibility of their teachers and school officials to step in and guide them in the right direction. Instead, the school district let cheerleaders travel to a road game against a team called the Indians with a sign that read “Get Ready For A Trail Of Tears Part 2" and chose to highlight these photos on its own website. This is on the adults, who should know better.

Timothy Burke is formerly Deadspin's Video Director.

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