The Peel District School Board is investigating the vice-principal of a Caledon high school after a picture of him donning blackface as part of a Halloween costume surfaced on Twitter.
"I would like to apologize on behalf of the Peel District School Board and senior administration for the hurt caused by this incident," education director Tony Pontes said in an e-mail statement on Monday. "Our board does not condone or tolerate actions of this type."
In the picture, the senior administrator at Mayfield Secondary School appears to be dressed as Mr. T., wearing long chains around his neck and with dark face paint, known as blackface.
Rad Dockery, a Brampton resident, posted the picture on Twitter after receiving it by e-mail from an administrator at the school board. "Black Face incident at Mayfield Secondary in Peel Region. UNACCEPTABLE!!!" he tweeted.
In an interview, Mr. Dockery said he is offended to see a school administrator wearing blackface. "The history of blackface, for those of us who know it, it really makes us cringe," Mr. Dockery said. "I get it, it's Mr. T. But if I want to look like Brad Pitt, I don't paint my face white."
Mr. Pontes said the school board is investigating the matter and will take appropriate action.
The Peel board recently strengthened its procedures for bias-free hiring and promotion.
"However, this incident is a reminder to us that our good work around equity and inclusion is never done and that we must continue to educate ourselves, our staff and students around racism, discrimination and stereotyping," Mr. Pontes said.
Blackface dates back to 1850, when white actors would put on dark face paint to portray often racist caricatures of black people. It has a long history of being offensive because of its ties to slavery, and nowadays it usually comes up during Halloween.