A Wellesley public school that canceled a talent show performance in which three boys wore Donald Trump masks did so after an offended parent’s complaint condemned the skit’s political nature and used language and images that made teachers and staff feel unsafe, according to emails released by school officials.
After the Wellesley Townsman issued a public records request to the district, school officials released copies of emails exchanged between the district’s superintendent and Fiske Elementary’s principal. The emails included the initial criticism from an angry parent, who saw the wordless skit as a way to mock the presidential front-runner, and included a caricature of President Obama and a political cartoon mocking the Islamic prophet Muhammad in response.
“Please grow up and realize that there are many different views and that a talent show ridiculing someone is first not a talent and would have never been tolerated if it was of Obama. May be [sic] next year my kids will dance a [sic] hijab on!” the parent, whose name was not released, wrote. “My husband is voting for Trump. You should be so lucky to be married to someone as wonderfully Republican as him.”
The three 11-year-old boys, Christian Mattaliano, Marc Maggiacomo, and David Maggiacomo, wore large cutouts of The Donald’s face and coordinated a dance to techno music. The act was meant to see two performances – one in the morning for students and staff, and another in the evening which parents could attend – but was cut short just hours before the second rendition.
In April, the boys’ mothers told The Boston Globe they didn’t have details about the complaint, but found it surprising that someone saw a skit performed by fifth graders as offensive political commentary.
The email writer, who addressed her complaint to Principal Rachel McGregor and a teacher named Elizabeth Floyd, called the two “pathetic individuals” and said she hopes Trump wins “and all teachers like yourselves get fired.”
McGregor responded to the parent, saying that the skit would not reoccur at the second show. In emails McGregor exchanged with Superintendent David Lussier, she wrote, “I have numerous teachers who are not feeling safe based on some of her comments.”
In a second email later that afternoon, the parent said her sons would dress as Muhammad and infiltrate the Trump act. She also included a cartoon in which a man held a severed cartoonist’s head.
“Where is the line? Who can you ridicule,” she wrote. “As long as you allow this then you can allow the Trump mockery. It’s all free speech.”