Teacher Put On Leave Months After Holding Mock Slave Auction In Class

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A Massachusetts teacher has been placed on leave months after holding a mock slave auction and using the N-word in the classroom, CNN reports.

In a letter, Gregory Martineau, superintendent of the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough, announced the teacher, who remains unidentified, was on leave following two separate incidents that occurred in a 5th-grade classroom at Margaret Neary Elementary School.

According to the letter, the educator held an "impromptu mock slave auction" in January while teaching students about the Atlantic Slave Trade.

“The educator asked two children sitting in front of the room, who were of color, to stand, and the educator and class discussed physical attributes (i.e., teeth and strength),” Martineau said.

In another instance, the teacher used the N-word while reading a book that wasn't a part of the fifth-grade curriculum, the letter states.

“It was later brought to the District’s attention that the ‘N-word’ does not appear in the book,” Martineau said. “Dehumanizing words such as slurs should not be spoken by employees or students. Using such words can harm students and negatively impact an open discussion on a particular topic.”

Martineau said the parents of students in the class reported the incidents to school officials in April. The following day, the superintendent said the teacher “inappropriately called out the student who had reported the educator’s use of the racial slur, which is not acceptable.”

According to the letter, the district launched an investigation, which resulted in the teacher being placed on paid administrative leave. The school’s principal was put on a 10-day paid leave in May.

“Currently, the District is engaged in due process procedures with the educator who remains on leave. All personnel matters will remain confidential,” Martineau said.

Martineau apologized for the incidents and pledged to improve the district's "cultural competency."

“I acknowledge that there were missteps in this process that further complicated the situation. Ultimately, I am responsible for ensuring students are in safe and supportive learning environments,” he said.

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