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Parents Protest Slavery Math Lesson

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waok-jeanross125x90 Jean Ross
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Gwinnett, Co. (WAOK/AJC)-WAOK Talk show host and community activist Derrick Boazman led a group of parents in a protest outside of the Beaver Ridge Elementary school Tuesday after a lesson on Frederick Douglass prompted third-grade teachers to use slave beatings to teach math concepts.

The protest was held as some parents of third-graders who saw the homework assignment met with the school’s principal.

About 60 parents, community activists and church leaders assembled outside the school. A few carried signs that read: “Shame on them” and “The teachers need to be fired.” Some drivers passing by the demonstration honked to show support.

Parent Christopher Braxton, who complained to the district about the slave math questions, said his son’s class was being led by a substitute teacher for the second day in a row as the investigation into the incident continues.

Braxton said Beaver Ridge Principal Jose DeJesus would not elaborate on the status of the probe or his son’s teacher.

“They apologized for the situation and said they could not speak about it further until they finish the investigation,” Braxton said.

Four of the school’s third-grade classrooms received the assignment, which made references to slaves picking oranges and filling baskets with cotton. It also included the question: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

This is the second time in two years race and ethnicity on a homework assignment sparked complaints at Gwinnett Schools. There was a similar incident in Cobb Schools last fall.

Gwinnett Schools human resources officials are investigating the Beaver Ridge incident to decide whether punitive action is necessary. District officials said they would work with math teachers to come up with more appropriate questions.

Ed DuBose, Georgia NAACP president, had a strong view: “The teachers, the staff responsible for allowing this to go forward should be fired.”

The district would not release the teachers’ names or races.

Read more in this report from the AJC

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