Pupil dresses up as Hitler and another dons a black face

December 20, 2018 by Elana Bowman
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A young girl student arrived at Rowena Public School in the far north west of NSW earlier this month dressed as Adolf Hitler, in full regalia along with swastikas and a moustache.

A picture from Rowena Public School’s Facebook page, which was closed down this week. Courtesy New Matilda

A second student, a young boy, turned up the same day dressed in full blackface. He was trying to honour the iconic black American athlete Jesse Owens.

Rowena is 150kms west of Moree and has a population of less than 500.

The school had decided to wrap up the 2018 year with a dress-up day for students celebrating famous people from history. The 2 students dressed up as people they had recently learned about in history; Jesse Owens and WWII.

Mr Cecil their teaching principal with responsibility for students from Years 3 to 6 did not send the children home to change, but he posed with them for photographs.

Rowena Public School principal Paul Cecil, posing with the student who turned up in blackface. The picture was posted to the school’s Facebook page, before being taken down, and an apology issued. Courtesy New Matilda

Mr Cecil then posted those photographs to the school’s official Facebook wall. According to reports on Twitter, the photos were also in the school newsletter:  \

Almost immediately; the school and the page received multiple complaints from people throughout the local district, in particular from nearby Walgett and Collarenebri, which both have large Aboriginal populations.

Rowena Public’s Facebook page has now been closed down, but not before the school posted an apology.

A departmental spokesperson said: “Rowena Public School unreservedly apologised for any offence caused by two images posted on Facebook. They were promptly removed.

“The school accepts that they were inappropriate and has been counselled by the Department of Education about the posts.

“All school personnel will participate in anti-racism and cultural awareness training to embed appropriate understandings in all school teaching and learning activities.”

Presumably, that will include suggesting to teaching staff they request students not be sent to school in blackface or dressed as white supremacists.

By allowing your child to turn up to school dressed in full Nazi regalia, or ‘blacked up’, is very hard to fathom; but it’s the actions of the school’s leader, principal Phil Cecil, that make this story truly concerning. Clinical psychologist Dr Lissa Johnson, a columnist for New Matilda, said: “In short, incidents such as these should act as a wake-up call to Australian educators and parents alike.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies President Lesli Berger commented:  “Dressing up as Hitler is beyond the pale. While it is concerning those young children – and presumably their parents – felt it was acceptable to dress as Hitler and in blackface, it beggars belief that the school principal endorsed and promoted what they had done. There is clearly a great deal of work to be done at Rowena Public School.

The principal made a terrible error of judgment, but we acknowledge the appropriate response from the Education Department.”

Mr Cecil did not respond to requests by New Matilda for an interview. A staff member at Rowena Public directed New Matilda to the NSW Department of Education.


One Response to “Pupil dresses up as Hitler and another dons a black face”
  1. Derek Ziman says:

    What a poor example this “principal” is!! He should be fired immediately

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