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Saturday
Nov022013

High School Employees Suspended After Blackface Costume Incident

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Three San Diego, Calif., high school employees were suspended for donning blackface while dressed in costume as characters from Cool Runnings, school officials said.

Serra High School football coaches Brian Basteyns and Howard Seeley, along with a third teacher, face suspension after a photo of the men dressed as members of the Jamaican bobsled team from the 1993 movie was posted on Facebook, San Diego Unified School District spokesman Jack Brandais told ABC News’ San Diego affiliate KGTV. The staff members were suspended without pay for two days, Bradais said.

District superintendent Cindy Marten said at a news conference on Friday that while the staff members’ racially-charged costumes didn’t reflect the school system’s values, the employees “are very regretful for the incident.”

“They have expressed a deep sense of remorse for the impact of their actions,” Marten said. “They send their apologies to any person or group of people they have offended, and want to make it clear it was not their intention to offend anyone.”

Marten said the staff members will not challenge their suspensions. She said the incident represented a “critical teachable moment.”

The district’s Race and Human Relations Department, in conjunction with the NAACP San Diego Branch and the Anti-Defamation League, will continue to provide anti-bias diversity training across the school system and specifically to Serra High School staff, Marten said.

Bastyens did not immediately return ABC News’ requests for comment.

ABC News’ attempts to reach Seeley were not immediately successful.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio