Southborough teacher held mock slave auction in class

Local News

After meeting with parents of students about the incidents, the teacher called out a student in class who had reported the teacher’s use of racial slurs.

A teacher at a Southborough elementary school is on leave after reportedly holding a mock slave auction and saying a racial slur while teaching a fifth grade class, school district officials said. 

The incidents happened on two separate occasions this year at Margaret Neary Elementary School, Superintendent of Schools Gregory Martineau wrote in a letter to parents last week. 

Martineau called the teacher’s actions “unacceptable” and “not appropriate.” Parents informed him of the incidents on April 24, he wrote.

Superintendent: Teacher used students of color to demonstrate slave auction

The first incident happened in January during a history class on the economy of southern colonies and the triangle trade. During the lesson, the teacher reportedly held an “impromptu mock slave auction,” asking two students of color sitting at the front of the classroom to stand up so their peers could discuss their physical attributes such as teeth and strength, Martineau said. 

The second incident occurred in April when the teacher was reading a book aloud. The book was recommended by a colleague but not a part of the fifth grade core English curriculum, according to Martineau. 

“In reading and discussing the text, the educator used the ‘N-word.’ It was later brought to the District’s attention that the ‘N-word’ does not appear in the book,” Martineau’s letter reads. 

Martineau called the teacher’s actions “unacceptable” and said simulations like a mock slave auction when teaching about “historical atrocities or trauma” are “not appropriate.” He cited research that shows such “simulations” are disproportionately traumatic for students of color.

Martineau did not name the involved teacher and said that “all personnel matters will remain confidential.”

Principal placed on leave during district investigation

Later, the teacher met with parents of students in the class and the principal of the school in an effort to “be transparent with families and take responsibility for mistakes,” Martineau said.

The next day, the teacher “called out” a student who had reported the teacher’s use of the racial slur, he wrote.

Martineau said that after that incident, the district began a formal investigation and placed the teacher on paid administrative leave. Principal Kathleen Valenti was also placed on leave from May 6 to May 16. 

“Paid administrative leave allowed for a thorough and unbiased investigation,” Martineau wrote. “Currently, the District is engaged in due process procedures with the educator who remains on leave.”

Martineau said the district will take steps to improve “cultural competency” going forward, including developing a plan focusing on “culturally competent” teaching, strengthening internal reporting and investigatory procedures, and working with families and students impacted by the teacher’s actions to help them transition to sixth grade. 

“I apologize for the events that took place in The Public Schools of Southborough,” Martineau wrote. “I acknowledge that there were missteps in this process that further complicated the situation.”

Six Southwick students held “mock slave auction” earlier this year

The incident comes on the heels of a similar episode in February when eight graders in a different Massachusetts town, Southwick, were caught participating in “a hateful racist online chat that included heinous language, threats, and a mock slave auction.”

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gullini announced in March that the six students involved would be criminally charged for participating in the chat, in which students allegedly used slurs, made racist comments, threatened violence against people of color, and held a mock slave auction with two other people of color they know.

Gulluni’s office said at the time it would partner with Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office to create a program to combat racism in schools. 

Source link

Leave a Comment