A homework assignment on slavery that left parents "flabbergasted," an apparent faux pas by Virginia's first lady on the same topic, and now another similar incident to add to the mix, this time out of Westchester County, NY. USA Today reports on an alleged social studies exercise at the private Chapel School in Bronxville that involved white fifth-graders "bidding" on African-American classmates who were "slaves." Vernex Harding, an educational administrator at a different Westchester school and the parent of one of the black boys in the class, tells PIX11 that her son said teacher Rebecca Antinozzi asked three black students in her class to go into the hall to "put imaginary chains along our necks and wrists, and shackles on our ankles." Those students then reportedly re-entered the class and were "bid on" by other students at a mock slave auction.
White students played rich slave owners, while Antinozzi played auctioneer, Harding tells the New York Daily News. "I'm shocked and infuriated that this happened to my son," Harding says, adding the boy was "humiliated." Another parent, who's black, defends Antinozzi, saying, "She likes to reenact a lot of stuff." Michael Schultz, Chapel's principal, says in an email the lesson was "racially insensitive and hurtful," per PIX11; the school is investigating, with Antinozzi for now, removed from her classroom. Her attorney released a statement noting she's a "loving, devoted, and uniformly respected teacher" and that news on the lesson is "inaccurate, out of context, [and] contains false facts." "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," the statement adds. (Read more slavery stories.)