District probing 'offensive' runaway slave assignment

Posted: Updated:
PORT CHESTER -

The Port Chester School District says it is investigating an "inappropriate, offensive" assignment that asked middle school students to create an advertisement for escaped slaves.

A photo purporting to show the instructions for the extra-credit assignment was shared on Facebook. It told students to include a five-sentence description of the missing slaves, along with a reward amount, contact information in a "Southern state" and other items.

In a statement posted to the district website, Superintendent Edward Kliszus said the assignment was "offensive and inappropriate on many levels."

Kliszus continued, "I pledge that the district shall take appropriate action to ensure not only that this type of situation does not reoccur, but also that all of our staff thoroughly understand the gross impropriety of the assignment. We believe firmly that we can discuss the tragedies of American slavery, the Civil War and civil rights in ways that comport rather with the highest orders of human dignity."

It's unclear whether the teacher who issued the assignment could face any disciplinary action.

Kliszus said the district’s attorneys are involved in the investigation “to ensure that we explore all means to best address this issue.”

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