- An upstate New York teacher cast black students in mock slave auctions as part of a fifth grade social studies lesson, prosecutors said.
- The teacher singled out African-American children, pretended to put shackles on them, and auctioned them off to their white classmates, according to the New York Attorney General.
- The teacher was fired from her job at The Chapel School in Bronxville, New York, prosecutors said.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
A New York teacher made black students participate in mock slave auctions for a fifth grade social studies lesson, prosecutors said Thursday.
On two occasions, the educator singled out African American students, and pretended to put “imaginary” chains on their necks, wrists, and ankles, according to a press release from the New York Attorney General’s office.
Black children then had to line up against a wall as the class simulated auctioning them off to their white peers, an investigation by officials for the attorney general found.
One of the affected students’ parents, Vernex Harding, spoke to local TV about the event, which she said traumatized her son.
Quoting her child’s reaction, she said: “as soon as she did it, mami, I knew it was wrong,” in an interview with the TV station PIX 11.
Harding said that the teacher incited the students to bid in the mock auction, for example by saying: “You look like a wealthy, white man. How about 300?”
The reenactment happened in March at The Chapel School in Bronxville, upstate New York.
The prosecutors’ investigation found that the incident had a “profoundly negative effect on all of the students present – especially the African-American students – and the school community at large.”
The teacher was fired after the mock slave auctions came to light.
Attorney General Letitia James said: “Every young person – regardless of race – deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias, and discrimination.”
The private Lutheran school already had a history of complaints about racial insensitivity, the investigation found.
Before the reenactment, parents said that students were treated differently depending on their race and that the curriculum needed to be more aware of race dynamics. They also wanted a more diverse faculty.
Forty-three per cent of The Chapel School’s students are part of a minority, according to a statement by Principal Michael Schultz.
The simulated auctions prompted the Attorney General’s office to work out new inclusion measures with the school.
Prosecutors said the school will hire a chief diversity officer and work on a plan to improve faculty representation, among other things.
“We accept responsibility for the overall findings, and we are committed to implementing all items outlined by the Attorney General to help us deepen our cultural competence,” Schultz said in the statement.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.