Massachusetts teacher who held mock slave auction, used racial slur, placed on leave: school officials

A Massachusetts elementary school teacher has been placed on leave following a series of incidents in which she held a mock slave auction and used a racial slur, district and school officials said this week. 

The fifth grade teacher at Margaret A. Neary Elementary School in Southborough, a town about 30 miles west of Boston, was not named by officials. 

School Principal Kathleen Valenti was also placed on paid leave from May 6-16, District Superintendent Gregory Martineau said in a statement this week. 

MOM RAGES AGAINST SCHOOL AFTER DAUGHTER WAS BULLIED IN ONLINE ‘SLAVE AUCTION’: ‘SERIOUS LACK OF UNDERSTANDING’

Martineau said he first learned about the incidents from parents in April. The first was a mock slave auction that occurred in January during a history lesson on the triangle 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),” wrote Martineau, who said the lesson was “unacceptable and violates the District’s core values.”

The second incident occurred in April when the teacher was reading aloud from a book and used a slur. The slur doesn’t appear in the book, the district later discovered, Martineau said. 

The parents of the students in the class met with the teacher and Valenti.

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Martineau told parents that such words should not be used by employees or students, as they are dehumanizing. He further apologized to parents and said “there were missteps” in the process that complicated the situation. 

“Ultimately, I am responsible for ensuring students are in safe and supportive learning environments,” he said.