- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 21, 2002

Parents in a California suburb have filed a complaint against a local public school system after a middle school teacher tied up her students with masking tape during a history lesson on slavery.
The parents' attorneys claim the eighth-grade teacher, whose name was not released, bound her students' hands with masking tape and duct-taped each of the students to the floor as part of an exercise to show students how slaves felt as they were transported to America on slave ships.
Also, the parents claim neither the teacher nor any other school officials notified them such an exercise would take place. One student who participated in the exercise has been emotionally traumatized, the attorneys say.
"While it's important to teach students about the horrific evils of slavery, it's completely inappropriate to physically restrain students and potentially compromise their physical safety or emotional well-being," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense organization representing several parents in the complaint.
"It's just not safe. What would have happened if there was some kind of emergency like an earthquake, some kind of attack, or worse yet another Columbine?" Mr. Dacus argued. "Such actions could be fatal."
The incident took place late last month during a history class at Lincoln Middle School, which operates in the Alameda Unified School District. About 880 students were enrolled at Lincoln last school year.
School administrators, including Assistant Superintendent Ardella Dailey, did not return a telephone call seeking comment yesterday. Staff members said Miss Dailey was attending a convention out of town.
Attorneys at Pacific Justice took on the case this month after one of the parents called to complain that the school did not seek parental consent before the exercise took place.
California law requires schools to obtain parental consent prior to any activities. It also prohibits teachers from encouraging students to participate in activities that could cause emotional distress or harm.
Mr. Dacus said the school has agreed to notify parents in the future and give objecting parents the right to opt their children out of the exercise. But, Mr. Dacus said, the school has not apologized to the parents whose children have already been subjected to the activity.
"This just shows that the school district has a lot to learn about parental notification," Mr. Dacus said. "The average parent would very clearly understand that this kind of act requires parental consent."


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