A New York private school has agreed to increase its diversity following a former teacher's "mock slave auction."
According to NBC News, The Chapel School in Bronxville made the commitment nearly three months after a fifth-grade class was forced to participate in a humiliating, ill-conceived history presentation about U.S. slavery. In early March, fifth grade teacher Rebecca Antinozzi allegedly instructed a social studies class to help stage a slave auction in which the white students bid on black students. The incident made national headlines, and launched the state's investigation into the teacher and school.
This week, New York Attorney General Letitia James' office announced the findings of the probe, as well as the measures Chapel School will take to ensure this never happens again.
"The investigation found that the teacher’s re-enactments in the two classes had a profoundly negative effect on all of the students present—especially the African American students—and the school community at large," James said. "Following the re-enactments, the school terminated the teacher’s employment."
NBC reports that the annual tuition at the pre-K through 8th-grade school can cost up to $14,000, and the student body is made up of 43 percent minorities. As part of the agreement, James said the Chapel School must hire a diversity coach approved by the state, increase diversity among its faculty, staff, and student body. One way they will accomplish this in the latter category is through new financial aid commitments.
"Every young person—regardless of race—deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias and discrimination," James added. "Lessons designed to separate children on the basis of race have no place in New York classrooms, or in classrooms throughout this country. I thank The Chapel School for agreeing to take measures that directly address the issues of race, diversity and inclusion at the school."
The state also discovered that the school had received previous complaints about a lack of racial sensitivity and failed to to address those complaints. The Chapel School released a statement about the probe and the new agreement, promising to focus "on the well being of our community as we move forward in continued reflection, action and growth."