Newberg school worker in blackface fired

Oregon

Lauren Pefferle spurred nationwide controversy with her actions

Lauren Pefferle was fired from her job at Mabel Rush Elementary in Newberg after she showed up in blackface to protest vaccine mandates, September 24, 2021 (Newberg Graphic/Pamplin Media)

NEWBERG, Ore. (PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP) — The Newberg school employee who showed up to work Sept. 17 wearing blackface and calling herself Rosa Parks — a reference to a Civil Rights icon who fought against segregation on public buses — remains defiant.

Lauren Pefferle, the Mabel Rush Elementary School special education assistant at the heart of the controversy, was first identified by Pamplin Media Group.

According to an employee at Mabel Rush elementary school, Lauren Pefferle was fired on Sept. 24.

District communications coordinator Gregg Koskela responded to a request for district comment later that day: “It is our policy not to confirm whether someone works with us or not, and not to confirm the outcome of disciplinary processes. In all these situations we follow our contracts with employees in which the first step is to place on administrative leave while we investigate and pursue any disciplinary action. That action can include termination.”

Despite the nationwide blowback to her actions and with her employment at risk, Pefferle spoke on conservative Portland radio host Lars Larson’s show on Thursday, Sept. 23. At that time she said she was still on administrative leave and admitted to darkening her skin and playing the part of Rosa Parks.

“I feel segregated because I am unvaccinated,” Pefferle said. “Something is wrong here. The next day, I went to work and did put on some darker color on my skin part that showed. I was going about my morning duties and as there was opportunity to talk to staff … I would say I am representing Rosa Parks today regarding segregation. When I was briefly talking with a certain employee … she was very comfortable not letting me be fully heard and marched over to the principal’s office.”

Pefferle said she told Mabel Rush principal Tim Lauer that she was dressed as Rosa Parks and that he immediately told her to go talk with human resources.

Larson asked Pefferle if she would characterize what she did as blackface.

“I did have darker skin makeup on my face and my hands, and the parts of my body that were showing my skin,” Pefferle said. “I never once thought of the word blackface because I honestly don’t even know that term. I don’t know what people mean by that and I don’t use that language.”

Larson also asked Pefferle if she felt there was anything wrong with what she did.

“I don’t,” she said.

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