Black parents sue Wisconsin district over slavery lesson


MADISON, Wis. — Three Black parents and their two children filed a lawsuit against a suburban Madison school district Friday alleging teachers inflicted emotional stress on students when they presented a lesson asking how to punish a slave.

The plaintiffs — Priscilla Jones, Dazarrea Ervins and David Ervins Jr., and their children, George Brockman and Zayvion Ervins — are seeking $75,000 in damages from the Sun Prairie Area School District, and a court order requiring the district to ban assignments that aren’t part of district-approved curriculum and to provide diversity training, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

District officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Three teachers at Patrick Marsh Middle School gave sixth-grade students an assignment in February asking them how they should punish a slave in ancient Mesopotamia. The assignment came to light after parents complained.

An investigation found the teachers collaborated on the lesson two or three years ago but the assignment was outside district curriculum and no one at any leadership level approved it. The teachers couldn’t remember how they developed the lesson but acknowledged it appeared to be identical to a $4 lesson from Teachers Pay Teachers, a website where educators can buy and sell materials, the investigation found. The site has since removed the lesson and the teachers resigned.

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