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Southborough teacher held mock slave auction in class

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After meeting with the students’ parents about the incidents, the teacher called out a student in the class who had reported that the teacher had used racist slurs.

A Southborough elementary school teacher is on leave after allegedly staging a fake slave auction and uttering a racial slur while teaching a fifth-grade class, school district officials said.

The incidents occurred twice 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 “inappropriate.” His parents informed him of the incidents on April 24, he wrote.

Superintendent: Teacher used students of color to demonstrate slave auction

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

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

“While reading and discussing the text, the educator used the “N-word.” It was then 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 traumas” are “not appropriate” . He cited research that shows such “simulations” are disproportionately traumatic for students of color.

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

Principal placed on leave during district investigation

Later, the teacher met with the parents of students in the class and the school principal 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 reported that the teacher had used racial slurs, he wrote.

Martineau said that after this incident, the district opened a formal investigation and placed the teacher on paid administrative leave. Director Kathleen Valenti was also placed on leave from May 6-16.

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

Martineau said the district will take steps to improve “cultural competency” in the future, including developing a plan focused on “culturally competent” teaching, strengthening internal reporting and investigation procedures and working with families and students affected by the teacher’s actions to help them make the transition. in the sixth year.

“I apologize for the events that took place in Southborough Public Schools,” Martineau wrote. “I recognize that there have been missteps in this process that have further complicated the situation.”

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

The incident follows a similar episode in February, when eight students in another Massachusetts town, Southwick, were caught participating in “a racist and hateful online chat that included vile comments, 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, during which the students allegedly used slurs, made racist comments, threatened violence against people of color and held a mock slave auction with two others. people of color they know.

Gulluni’s office announced at the time that it would partner with Attorney General Andrea Campbell’s office to create an anti-racism program in schools.

Boston

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