New York teacher investigated over allegations he made Black students pick cotton and wear shackles during slavery lessons, say reports
- A white teacher is being investigated over allegations he made Black students pick
cottonand wear handcuffs.
- Parents at the
school, where half the students are Black, are calling for the teacher to be fired.
A white teacher in
Two children in separate classes told their mothers a white teacher referred to himself as "massah" — a word for master historically used by enslaved Black people — and allowed white students to opt out of the tasks, newspaper Democrat and Chronicle reported.
"He gave the whole class cotton, and we were made to pick out the cotton seeds," student Jahmiere O'Neal told WXXI-AM. "He said, 'Better clean it right, boy.'"
The students alleged that the seventh-grade social studies teacher made Black students wear handcuffs and leg shackles in class, according to Democrat and Chronicle.
When they were unable to get out of them, he said: "It's OK; your ancestors couldn't either," it's alleged.
Approximately half of the students at the Rochester's School of the Arts are Black, according to the Democrat and Chronicle, and most of the students in Rausch's class are Black.
The allegations came to light after Precious Tross, the mother of student Ja'Nasia Brown, posted a photo on Facebook of the cotton her daughter was given in class.
Both Tross and Vialma Ramos, the mother of Jahmiere O'Neal, are calling for the teacher to be fired.
"The district takes these situations very seriously, as descriptions of what occurred in the classroom by the school community are extremely troubling," the school board wrote in a statement, per Democrat and Chronicle.
The cotton-picking lesson did take place the Rochester City School District confirmed, said the outlet.
"If that's what happened, it's problematic, it's troubling and it shouldn't be going on," School Board President Cynthia Elliott said, according to the paper.
"I don't know why a person would want to teach Black and brown students in the city of Rochester if they feel like that."
The teacher was named as Patrick Rausch, an educator with 20 years of experience, by the Democrat and Chronicle.
Rausch has been put on administrative leave while the district's investigation continues, the paper said.
Beyond the allegations about slavery lessons, Tross claimed that the teacher previously made fun of her daughter's weight, and Ramos claimed he used slurs to refer to her son's developmental disability, Democrat and Chronicle reported.
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