PITTSBORO, North Carolina (AP) — A North Carolina schools superintendent has apologized for a mock “slave auction” in which white middle schoolers pretended to sell their black classmates.
“Actions like these just don’t reflect who we are as a school system,” Chatham County Schools Superintendent Anthony Jackson said after parents raised an outcry. “And I say, shamelessly, will not be tolerated in the school system.”
The school board has enacted some policy changes and will also review the student code of conduct and disciplinary policies involving acts of racism, Jackson said. Some parents have complained that several students involved received only one-day suspensions.
A coalition of local groups on Monday called on the board to address the situation at JS Waters School in Goldston and demand an apology from the instigators, media reported.
The mock auction took place in the presence of staff and faculty and was videotaped, according to a press release from Chatham Organizing For Racial Equity. The K-8 school about 80 miles southwest of Raleigh has 195 students, 68% of whom are white.
“These students were encouraged not only to commit brazen and overt acts of racism, but to further retaliate and continue their aggression after serving a cursory one-day suspension,” the coalition said.
The coalition also wants the district to increase penalties for school employees who engage in racist behavior, including making it a dismissable offense.
Christy Wagner made an emotional appeal to the board, saying she learned about what happened on the baseball field from another parent and had to explain to her biracial son why he shouldn’t not have to endure such racism in silence.
“The reality is that these acts of racism are not just happening here in Chatham County, but across North Carolina and across the country,” Wagner said. “More should be done to tackle racism in schools because no parent should have to stay here after hearing their son was sold into a slave trade at school.”
The school board unanimously approved Jackson’s proposed policy changes and regulations as part of a comprehensive plan for accountability for racist incidents in schools, student support services and staff training.
Jackson ordered the board to authorize a slate of new regulations, ask staff to ‘begin a comprehensive top-to-bottom review of our student code of conduct’ and authorize a district-wide training protocol. , including establishing communication channels with parents and local community organizations.
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