After An Investigation, A Mock Slave Auction At A New York School Was Unsurprisingly Determined As Having A “Profoundly Negative Effect” On Children

In March, a fifth-grade teacher led a class instruction on US slavery by putting Black students in fake shackles and bidding them off to white students in a mock slave auction. Surprising to no one, an investigation found that the lesson caused a “profoundly negative effect” on the students.

According to the office of Attorney General Letitia James, two classes at The Chapel School, a private Lutheran institution that enrolls students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade in Bronxville, New York, participated in the controversial assignment. The teachers, who both teach fifth-grade at the school, had some of their Black students leave the classroom, where they were placed in imaginary “shackles,” and return inside, where they stood against a wall while their white classmates “bid” on them.

After a student’s parent complained, James took up the probe.

“The investigation found that the teacher’s reenactments in the two classes had a profoundly negative effect on all of the students present — especially the African-American students — and the school community at large,” she said in a statement. “Following the reenactments, the school terminated the teacher’s employment.”

Additionally, a series of agreements have been made with the school. On Wednesday, James said that the institution would be hiring a chief diversity officer, which she would approve, and establish a plan to increase the school’s diversity and create a new code of conduct that addresses issues of race.

“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. I thank The Chapel School for agreeing to take measures that directly address the issues of race, diversity, and inclusion at the school. My office will continue efforts to promote safe environments where all students can learn and thrive.”

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