Parents at a private school in Westchester County, New York, are up in arms after a social studies teacher reportedly held a mock slave auction in which white students were asked to ‘buy’ their black classmates.
The incident, which is now being investigated by officials at the Chapel School in Bronxville, was said to have occurred on Tuesday in the fifth-grade history class of Rebecca Antinozzi.
Vernex Harding told the station WPIX that her son, who is black and attends the school, was left traumatized by the controversial lesson on slavery.
Harding said that her child was one of three African-American students who were picked by Antinozzi, who is white, to play the role of slaves.
The mother said her son later told her how he and the other students were led out into the hallway, where the teacher pretended to place imaginary chains on their necks and wrists, and shackles on their ankles.
The blacks fifth-graders were then brought back into the classroom, where their white classmates were urged to bid on them as part of the mock auction.
In an email sent Tuesday night to parents, Chapel School Principal Michael Schultz described Antinozzi’s lesson as ‘racial insensitive and hurtful.’
The teacher has been removed from the classroom pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Administrators at the school on Thursday held emergency meetings with parents to address the slavery lesson.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said she is monitoring the situation at the Chapel School
New York Attorney General Letitia James also weighed in on the incident, calling reports of the ‘racist’ lesson ‘deeply troubling. James said her office is closely monitoring the situation.
According to her profile on the Chapel School’s website, Antinozzi has taught social studies at grades 3-5 for the past four years.
She has a Bahcelor’s degree in child studies from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree in elementary and special education from Fordham University.