HEAT ALERT

Dangerous heat continues today in the Bronx for the first day of summer

Teacher under fire for cotton, cuffs in class on slavery

Rochester school officials are investigating allegations that a white teacher told his class of mostly Black students to pick seeds out of cotton and put on handcuffs during lessons on slavery in a seventh-grade social studies class.

Associated Press

May 2, 2022, 9:45 AM

Updated 780 days ago

Share:

Rochester school officials are investigating allegations that a white teacher told his class of mostly Black students to pick seeds out of cotton and put on handcuffs during lessons on slavery in a seventh-grade social studies class.
“It made me feel bad to be a Black person,” student Jahmiere O’Neal told news outlets.
The teacher has been put on leave while the school system investigates the allegations. They came to light after an appalled parent posted on Facebook that her daughter was confronted with the cotton-picking lesson Tuesday.
“He made a mockery out of slavery,” the mother, Precious Tross, who also goes by Precious Morris, told news outlets later.
“I don’t have a problem with you teaching our kids about slavery and what our ancestors went through and how they had to pick cotton,” she said. “Our teachers back in the day told us that, but they don’t bring in cotton and make you pick cotton seeds out of cotton.”
School officials haven't identified the teacher. Teachers union President Adam Urbanski told WXXI-AM that “if someone departs from what they should be doing, they should suffer the consequences, but due process has to be allowed first.”
Tross and Vialma Ramos-O’Neal, who is Jahmiere's mother, said the teacher let white children refuse to take part in the cotton-picking while not letting kids of color opt out.
“I immediately was like, ‘Oh, I’m not doing that,’” said Morris' daughter, Ja’Nasia Brown. “And then he was like, ‘Do it. It’s for a good grade.’”
On another occasion, the teacher brought in handcuffs and shackles, according to the students. Tross said that when her daughter balked at putting them on, the teacher threatened to send her to the principal's office or the school counselor.
The parents are calling for the teacher's firing and for his teaching license to be revoked.
School Principal Kelly Nicastro told parents in a letter that school leaders “take these allegations very seriously,” and a statement from the school board called them “extremely troubling.”
“In a district of Black and brown students, it is important to be sensitive of the historical framework by which our students are engaging and learning,” board President Cynthia Elliott said. About half the School of the Arts’ students are Black.


More from News 12
1:58
NYPD: Mother arrested for leaving two children in her car in University Heights

NYPD: Mother arrested for leaving two children in her car in University Heights

2:00
HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in the Bronx; tracking weekend thunderstorms

HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in the Bronx; tracking weekend thunderstorms

0:26
Building facade partially collapses along Bailey Avenue

Building facade partially collapses along Bailey Avenue

0:25
NYPD: Two people shot on Grand Concourse; teenager in critical condition

NYPD: Two people shot on Grand Concourse; teenager in critical condition

1:55
Pelham Parkway student receives $10,000 college scholarship at Manhattan College

Pelham Parkway student receives $10,000 college scholarship at Manhattan College

2:55
FDNY: Dunkin', other businesses affected by massive fire in Melrose

FDNY: Dunkin', other businesses affected by massive fire in Melrose

0:59
Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

1:54
Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

0:26
​​Thursday marks 6-year anniversary of death of 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

​​Thursday marks 6-year anniversary of death of 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

2:24
Health experts urge Bronx swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

Health experts urge Bronx swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

0:19
Police: 23-year-old shot in the arm in Fordham; 2 suspects wanted

Police: 23-year-old shot in the arm in Fordham; 2 suspects wanted

1:48
Cafeteria Serie 54 brings a piece of the Dominican Republic to the Bronx

Cafeteria Serie 54 brings a piece of the Dominican Republic to the Bronx

1:59
Fordham bodega worker shot, UBA calls on city to bring back stop-and-frisk

Fordham bodega worker shot, UBA calls on city to bring back stop-and-frisk

1:54
66-year-old man hospitalized after reports of drowning

66-year-old man hospitalized after reports of drowning

0:57
Table of Queens crowning ceremony in Bathgate

Table of Queens crowning ceremony in Bathgate

1:55
Juneteenth ceremony held at Van Cortlandt House Museum

Juneteenth ceremony held at Van Cortlandt House Museum

0:36
Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

0:32
Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

2:46
‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

0:29
Police identify 16-year-old fatally shot in the head in Morrisania

Police identify 16-year-old fatally shot in the head in Morrisania