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Massachusetts teacher is accused of holding mock slave auction and using N-word in classroom with fifth graders

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  • The teacher allegedly held a mock slave auction with two students of color
  • Months later, the same teacher is accused of using the N-word during a lesson
  • This teacher remains on leave and is unnamed as they go through due process 

Massachusetts fifth-grade teacher has been placed on administrative leave after they allegedly held a mock slave auction with students, then used the N-word in a lesson months later.

Parents of the students at Margaret A. Neary Elementary School in Southborough told Superintendent Gregory Martineau about both alleged incidents on April 24.

In a May 29 statement, Martineau explained that the ‘impromptu’ slave auction occurred in January during a history lesson on the economy of southern US colonies and the triangle slave trade.

‘The educator asked two children sitting in front of the room, who were of color, to stand, and the educator and class discussed physical attributes (i.e., teeth and strength),’ Martineau wrote.

The second alleged incident happened in April, when the same unnamed educator read a book not part of the fifth-grade curriculum. The educator apparently used the N-word while discussing this book, even though it didn’t appear in the text at all.

A class of fifth-graders at Margaret A. Neary Elementary School, pictured, allegedly had two problematic lessons, one involving a mock slave trade and another where the teacher reportedly said the N-word

A class of fifth-graders at Margaret A. Neary Elementary School, pictured, allegedly had two problematic lessons, one involving a mock slave trade and another where the teacher reportedly said the N-word

Martineau claimed he didn’t know any of this happened until he was told by parents in April and condemned both incidents. While he didn’t call them racist, he described what happened as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘dehumanizing.’

‘Holding a mock slave auction is unacceptable and violates the District’s core values’, Martineau wrote. ‘Simulations or role plays when teaching about historical atrocities or trauma are not appropriate, and these teaching methods are not to be used.’

Nagma Casey, a parent of a student at the school, told CBS News she didn’t know about the mock slave auction until recently.

‘It is shocking to hear this just last night. We didn’t know about the incident.’ 

After this all came out, the parents of the students in that class met with the teacher and the principal, Kathleen Valenti.

Just a day after that meeting, the teacher ‘inappropriately called out the student who had reported the educator’s use of the racial slur,’ according to Martineau’s statement. 

Pictured: The school's principal, Kathleen Valenti, was placed on a temporary paid leave in May and parents expressed their anger at her for not taking 'any action' when the teacher allegedly engaged in a second racist lesson in April

Pictured: The school’s principal, Kathleen Valenti, was placed on a temporary paid leave in May and parents expressed their anger at her for not taking ‘any action’ when the teacher allegedly engaged in a second racist lesson in April

After an investigation by the school district, both the teacher and Valenti were placed on leave. Valenti was paid during her 10-day absence from May 6 to May 16 and remains the principal of the school.

‘It was appalling to see that the principal stood by and didn’t take any action the second time the same teacher did that,’ an anonymous parent told CBS News. 

‘I am worried for my kid getting to that school, how the school system would protect them from bullying and racism.’ 

The unidentified teacher who allegedly engaged in these racist lessons remains on leave and is undergoing due process measures with the school district. 



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