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‘A sick joke’: Photo of KKK members shows up next to Middleton Schools’ Google listing

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A photo of KKK members was uploaded to the Middleton School District’s Google listing. | Google

MIDDLETON — A picture of Ku Klux Klan members, including one holding a Confederate flag, was uploaded and tagged to the Middleton School District’s listing on Google, and school board chairman Tim Winkle on Friday said the appearance of the photo “(is) a concern” and “a sick joke.”

The district became aware of the picture on Wednesday, Winkle told the Statesman. According to Google, the picture was uploaded by user “Ima Boss”; the picture was also uploaded to the listing for a Mobil gas station in Naperville, Illinois, as well. It is not posted anywhere on the Middleton School District’s website itself; it is instead associated just with Google searches.

The district’s IT department has repeatedly reached out to Google to get the picture taken down but has not had success, Winkle said. The district has received several calls regarding the photo, according to Winkle.

The specific convenience store tagged in Naperville was recently in the news, because of video of a clerk telling Hispanic customers to “go back to their country” and that “ICE will come,” per the Chicago Tribune.

“I feel bad for anybody that’s offended by it, because it’s a bad situation all the way around,” Winkle said. “For that to be associated with us, I just really feel bad for anybody who is seeing that and is offended by it, because I am, too.

“It’s unfortunate that someone feels that it’s either funny or a means to harass the school district. The school district has had enough trouble.”

The district made headlines last November when a photo of Middleton Heights Elementary staff dressed in controversial Halloween costumes — a border wall and Mexicans in offensive, stereotypical dress — was posted to the district’s Facebook page. Fourteen employees were placed on leave and were reinstated a few days later, after an internal investigation.

The incident made national headlines and is something the district has worked hard to get past, Winkle said. He maintains that last November’s incident was “taken out of context,” but said this new issue makes it difficult to move forward.

“That whole incident last November was dealt with. It’s over and done. To keep bringing it back up just hurts the students and town. To paint us in that light is not good,” Winkle said. “We did a lot to overcome that within our district and within … to correct that situation, even though it was not as it was perceived. It’s kind of a slap.

“It’s out of our control. But it reflects bad on the district because people see that … people want to assume the worst sometimes … I don’t know if this is someone (who) thinks it’s funny or is trying to make a point.”

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