Massachusetts teacher under investigation for holding mock slave auction

Massachusetts teacher under investigation for holding mock slave auction

A Massachusetts teacher was placed on administrative leave for allegedly holding a fictitious slave auction and using a racial slur in a fifth-grade class, according to a letter from a school administrator.

Superintendent Gregory Martineau of Northborough and Southborough Public Schools was notified of events at Margaret Neary Elementary School in April.

Martineau wrote a letter to parents Wednesday describing the incident and the actions the school system has taken.

The instructor in question held an “improvised mock slave auction” in January while giving a lesson on the history of the Atlantic slave trade. According to the letter, the instructor pushed two black students to the front of the class while other students talked about physical characteristics such as strength and teeth.

“Holding a mock slave auction is unacceptable and violates the district’s core values,” Martineau said. “Simulations or role-playing when teaching about atrocities or historical trauma are not appropriate, and these teaching methods should not be used.”

The same teacher is accused of using the N-word in front of his students during a different event in April, when they were reading a book that was not required to be read in class but had been recommended by a colleague.

According to Martineau’s letter, the district later discovered that the N-word does not appear even once in the book.

“Employees or students should not use dehumanizing words, such as insults,” he wrote. “The use of such words can harm students and negatively impact an open discussion on a particular topic.”

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Martineau stated that in April, the parents met with Kathleen Valenti, the school’s principal, and the teacher after learning of the two events. But the next day, the instructor “inappropriately criticized the student who had reported the educator’s use of the racial slur, which is not acceptable.”

The instructor and principal were later placed on administrative leave while the district launched a formal investigation to facilitate a “thorough and impartial investigation,” as stated in the letter.

Although Valenti’s absence was for ten days, the teacher is still on leave as the investigation continues.

“The District is currently engaged in due process proceedings with the educator who remains on leave,” Martineau wrote. “All personnel matters will remain confidential.”

Martineau said in the letter that the district’s “cultural competency” will increase, apologizing to parents and accepting responsibility for the cases.