Howard County teacher returns after assigning 'fun' slave song

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 14, 2016

A Howard County teacher returned to work after assigning her students to create a "fun" slave song.

Students in a Mount Hebron High School English class were assigned to compose a slave song as part of a unit based on "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass."

In a letter to parents, principal Andrew Cockley said the assignment was "culturally insensitive and caused discomfort for many students." He said the teacher apologized to the students and the assignment was removed. 

The teacher was placed on administrative leave during the investigation and returned Tuesday Dec. 13 after the investigation concluded. A Howard County schools official released the following statement,

HCPSS learned about the "slave song" assignment on Wednesday, December 7. The teacher was placed on administrative leave while the investigation was being conducted. Administrative leave is not a disciplinary action.  The teacher returned to the classroom yesterday (Tuesday, Dec. 13) after the investigation concluded. 

Lesson resources are provided for teachers by the school system to use when teaching about different cultures without offending students and parents. HCPSS intends for all lessons to be culturally sensitive. 

Cockley said the schools goal "continued to be to help all of our students and parents feel unified at Mount Hebron High School and to let you know that we are continuously analyzing our efforts to make improvements."

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