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US Teacher Fired for ‘Auctioning Off’ Black Students as History Lesson

CC0 / / Classroom
Classroom - Sputnik International
A fifth-grade teacher at a private school in New York was fired after she held mock slave auctions in class, allowing white students to bid on black classmates.

In a Wednesday press release, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that an investigation conducted in March found that an unidentified teacher at the Chapel School in Bronxville, New York, conducted reenactments of a slave auction on two different occasions as part of a lesson plan on colonial America. 

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In two fifth-grade social studies classes, the teacher asked all African-American students in the class to raise their hands, before asking them to exit the classroom and stand in the hallway. The teacher then placed imaginary chains on the students' necks, wrists and ankles before they were allowed to enter the classroom again. The African-American students were then asked to stand against a wall in front of the white students to simulate an auction in which African-Americans are sold as slaves to white people.

According to the attorney general, an investigation was carried out after several complaints from parents regarding "unequal discipline of students on the basis of race, a lack of racial sensitivity and awareness in school curricula, and a lack of diversity among the teaching faculty." The teacher involved in the incident has been fired. The Chapel School, however, did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.

In the statement, James announced that the state has established a series of actions the school has to implement following the incident, which had a "profoundly negative effect on all of the students present — especially the African-American students." 

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"Every young person — regardless of race — deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias, and discrimination," James said. "Lessons designed to separate children on the basis of race have no place in New York classrooms, or in classrooms throughout this country."

The school will be required to hire a chief diversity officer and a diversity consultant to help with development training at the school. It will also be required to develop a Staff Diversification Plan, outlining steps the school plans to take on a yearly basis to increase "minority representation among the school's teaching faculty." In addition, the school has committed to a new financial aid effort to increase diversity and will also submit a new code of conduct for approval by the attorney general. The new code will outline how school community members should address racial and ethnic discrimination and harassment.

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