A Maryland teacher was briefly placed on administrative leave after asking students to “have fun” writing a song about slaves that would “entertain us all” while studying a 19th-century black abolitionist and statesman.
The teacher, whose name was not released, made the assignment as part of a lesson on “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” who escaped slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, and became a renowned author and orator.
The principal of Mount Hebron High School sent an email Dec. 7 to parents explaining the assignment had been intended to “as a means to learn how language can be used effectively to convey feelings and important messages,” reported The Baltimore Sun.
Officials with Howard County Public Schools, which has recently been dealing with other racially charged incidents involving students’ social media posts, quickly apologized — which angered some parents.
“Some thought we shouldn’t have apologized, some thought we were too quick to apologize,” said Superintendent Renee Foose. “I do not believe you can ever be too quick to apologize.”
Foose said the assignment was “outrageous,” but she defended the teacher as “inexperienced.”
The teacher returned to the classroom Tuesday and was not disciplined, and the homework assignment was removed.
“I think this was just a teacher who had a blind spot, and from my investigation, was well intentioned in the lesson,” former school board member Larry Walker told WJZ-TV.
A student at Atholton High School posted a photo of herself in blackface last month, with a caption reading, “I’m finally a n****r.”
Another white student at River Hill High School posted a photo of herself holding what appeared to be a handgun, captioned, “I’m boutta shoot some n****rs.”
About 400 students walked out of Oakland Mills High School last week to demonstrate support for a proposed change to district policy that would require administrators to notify students and staff of any threats made by other students.
A white Mount Hebron student’s racist rant about police violence went viral in February.
“I mean, seriously, who the f*ck cares about some black man who dies?” the student said in that video.
Howard County is about 60 percent white and 19 percent black, according to the U.S. Census.