A Maryland teacher who instructed an English class to compose a “slave song” as part of a lesson about abolitionist Frederick Douglass returned to the classroom Tuesday following an investigation.
The recent assignment at Mount Hebron High School in Howard County instructed students to “have fun” and “entertain us all” with their slave-era folk songs. According to a letter to parents from Principal Andrew Cockley, the assignment was meant to teach students “how language can be used effectively to convey feelings and important message.”
Mr. Cockley said the assignment was removed and the teacher has since apologized to the students and their parents.
“The activity was culturally insensitive and caused discomfort for many students,” his letter read. “I am sorry this assignment was designed the way it was and I will make every effort to ensure this kind of incident does not occur in the future.”
Howard County Public School System spokesperson John White told WBFF, a local Fox News affiliate, that the teacher is back in the classroom after being placed on leave for most of last week.
“The teacher was placed on administrative leave while the investigation was being conducted,” Mr. White wrote in a statement. “Administrative leave is not a disciplinary action. The teacher returned to the classroom yesterday (Tuesday, Dec. 13) after the investigation concluded.”
Howard County Superintendent Renee Foose called the teacher “inexperienced” and said the assignment was not part of the district’s official curriculum.
“It was offensive and out of scope with what we should be teaching,” Ms. Foose told The Baltimore Sun.