A high school teacher in Mesa, Arizona, has been suspended after a few students were reportedly spooked by the educator’s Spirit Week costume: The devil himself.
When students showed up at the unidentified teacher’s classroom last week, they found the teacher wearing devil horns and carrying a pitchfork, according to Mesa NBC affiliate KPNX.
As each student entered the class, the teacher reportedly waved the pitchfork over their head and said, “Hail Satan.”
Sophomore Nathaniel Hamlet told the station that while some students thought the teacher’s antics were funny and others just blew it off, he personally didn’t appreciate it for religious reasons.
“I said, ‘Don’t do that to me,’ and I pushed [the pitchfork] away, maybe three or four times, and he still said it and still did it,” Hamlet told KPNX.
The unidentified teacher told the station that the Satan costume was part of a Halloween-themed Spirit Week.
“Participating in spirit weeks like this is a way for me to engage with my students and bring fun to my classroom,” the teacher said. “It’s truly not any more complicated than that.”
But Hamlet didn’t agree and told his dad, former Mesa Public School board candidate Chris Hamlet, who reported the incident to the school’s principal.
“I was livid because I am a Christian as well, obviously,” Chris Hamlet told KPNX. “What really tipped it over for me is he kept telling him no, and he and the teacher kept persisting.”
As a result, the teacher was taken out of the classroom the next day and put on paid administrative leave, according to a statement the Mesa Public Schools District gave to HuffPost.
“Mesa Public Schools administration was notified of the alleged incident at Mesa High School late Wednesday afternoon after school hours.
“Our Human Resources department began the investigation Thursday morning and placed the teacher on paid administrative leave pending the result of the investigation.
“The investigation remains ongoing.”
Nathaniel Hamlet told KPNX he thinks the suspension is fair but said the teacher “did it repeatedly to everyone, so I feel like you should probably get fired.”
Chris Hamlet agreed with his son. “If you’re gonna keep the Christian stuff out, then you got to keep the devil-worshiping stuff out, period,” he said.
The devil was not able to be reached for comment.