A Virginia mother said a teacher at her son’s middle school asked African-American students to pretend to be slaves during a history lesson while white children played the part of noblemen.
For a skit on the Louisiana Purchase at Shelburne Middle School in Staunton last week, black students were asked to pretend to pick cotton and dig coal, Tamika Derozen’s son told her.
“He said, ‘Mom, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to walk out of the class, but I didn’t want to get in trouble,’” Derozen told WHSV, the local ABC station.
She said the principal apologized after hearing her complaint. But the teacher later showed the children a clip from the miniseries “Roots,” which was about slavery, and said it wouldn’t make sense for white actors to play the slaves, Derozen told the station.
The school district said on its website that it was investigating and that the matter would be handled “swiftly.”
“If such behavior occurred, it is grossly inappropriate, insensitive and contradictory to the values of our school division and will not be tolerated,” the statement from Staunton City Schools superintendent Linda G. Reviea said. “At all times we expect our teachers and staff to be positive role models and demonstrate sound judgment.”
Reviea added that the district did not “condone or encourage instruction that deliberately singles out a person or group because of race and subjects them to disparagement or humiliation.”
The News Leader said school board members would not comment on the incident.
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place