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School Under Fire for Using Black Student to Re-enact ‘Little Rock Nine’ Abuse

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An Arizona mother is furious after learning her son was paraded around a classroom and degraded by other students at the request of two teachers.

Claudia Rodriguez called out BASIS Phoenix Central School in a lengthy Facebook post after her 9-year-old was made to walk through the classroom as two teachers and 27 third-graders hurled insults at him. When asked about their teaching methods, the two instructors claimed they were attempting to teach the class about the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas’ capital city in 1957.

“His humanities teacher found it wise that in order for the kids to understand what black kids during those times experienced that she would have my child, who is black, walk through the classroom as she, another teacher, and the remaining 27 classmates yell, humiliate and berate him,” Rodriguez wrote. “The Head of School had the nerve to tell me that there was some educational value in this incident because it started conversations in the homes of the other kids, at the expense of my child’s emotional well-being.”

Blavity reports school spokesman Phil Handler downplayed the incident, saying teachers banned the use of racial slurs and that several kids volunteered to be the insulted student, adding, “the whole class thought it was a pretty good lesson.”

“I’ve never heard of anybody complaining about learning about the civil-rights movement,” Handler said. “From time to time parents get upset, and we’re sorry it happened.”

Rodriguez isn’t alone in her anger, however; other parents also took issue with the re-enactment and how it could mentally and emotionally affect students of all races.

“To choose a child and have him experience physical feelings of hate is a gross incompetence and negligent decision on the part of 1-2 members of staff. Whether or not this was intent or pure ignorance, I did expect better,” a parent wrote in a letter shared on Facebook by Rodriguez. “This is a real subject that is a big part of our past and unfortunately our present. How it is delivered is important. My son does not get to play racist or hate-monger anywhere.”

After meeting with community leaders, Rodriguez filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.

“This woman should not be teaching kids, she has no business in a classroom if she thinks it’s ok to do this to a child,” Rodriguez added in her post. “What has been done to my child cannot be undone, but maybe we can prevent this from happening to someone else.”


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