On Wednesday, the New York State Attorney General’s Office released the results of its investigation into a Bronxville private school school where white students were urged by a fifth-grade teacher to bid on black classmates, and they concluded that the incidents “had a profoundly negative effect” on the children.
The State Attorney General’s Office stated, “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.” They described the incidents as follows:
In March, in two separate fifth-grade social studies classes, a teacher asked all of the African-American students in each class to raise their hands, and then instructed them to exit the classroom and stand in the hallway. The teacher then placed imaginary chains or “shackles,” on these students’ necks, wrists, and ankles, and had them walk back into the classroom. The teacher then instructed the African-American students to line up against the wall, and proceeded to conduct a simulated auction of the African-American students in front of the rest of the class. These “auctions” reenacted the sale of African-American students to their white counterparts.
State Attorney General Letitia James asserted, “Every young person — regardless of race — deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias, and discrimination. 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.”
James added, “”The investigation found that families had previously made complaints relating to, among other things, unequal discipline of students on the basis of race, a lack of racial sensitivity and awareness in school curricula, and a lack of diversity among the teaching faculty.”
The instructions for the school from the attorney general’s office include hiring a chief diversity officer; submitting a staff diversification plan outlining plans to increase minority representation among the school’s teaching faculty; increasing diversity within the student body; hiring a diversity consultant, and creating a formal complaint procedure if there are complaints regarding harassment or discrimination.
On Wednesday, Principal Michael Schultz of the Chapel School told NBC News, “The Chapel School reached a timely resolution with the Attorney General to ensure that our focus remains on the well-being of our community as we move forward in continued reflection, action, and growth.”
As The New York Post reported, when the story of the incidents made the news in March, the teacher’s attorney said she was a popular teacher whose support included many parents, some of them the parents of black students. He said, “To the extent anyone took offense to a small portion of the overall lesson that day that was used solely to emphasize the tragic injustice of slavery, it certainly was never intended.”