Statement from Superintendent of Schools

 

As you may know, we have been conducting an investigation regarding an assignment given to students by a J.W. Dodd Middle School teacher last Thursday.

 

The teacher’s directions to the students concerned the writing of captions for Reconstruction Era photos. The Reconstruction Era is the roughly fourteen years following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and end of the Civil War in 1865.

 

The District’s investigation began last Friday after several parents contacted the school principal to share their concerns. The teacher was removed from the classroom while the investigation proceeded.

 

Let me be perfectly clear: Our investigation has determined that this lesson was poorly conceived and executed. The teacher instructed three separate classes of students to develop captions for photos of post-war sharecroppers. We understand from our investigation that she told students to ‘make it funny’ and ‘don’t bore me.’ Aside from the fact that this is a poor lesson, it is an insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country, and it is unacceptable.

 

The teacher has delivered an apology which I will share with you this evening:

 

“It is with the deepest sense of respect that I apologize to the students, families and larger Freeport community for my insensitive words and actions last week. As a teacher and fellow member of this school community, it is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions. I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust from my students, colleagues and the community.”

 

We are currently finalizing an agreement with the teacher and her union representatives.

 

On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Freeport community for its patience through this investigation, and reaffirm our schools as places of tolerance and understanding.

 

 

 

Dr. Kishore Kuncham

Superintendent of Schools

 

 

 

A Message from Superintendent of Schools

September 22,2019

 

I have been informed that during a recent eighth grade Reconstruction Era social studies lesson at J.W. Dodd Middle School, a faculty member is reported to have used directions to describe an assignment that were very upsetting to some students and families.

 

The emotional and social wellness of our students is always our highest priority and we take any insensitive comments made by staff very seriously. I have directed that an investigation of these claims be immediately conducted. Since this matter involves a District employee and is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment until a thorough investigation and careful consideration of the facts of this matter are completed.

 

Dr. Kishore Kuncham

Superintendent of Schools