Rebecca Antinozzi, a teacher at The Chapel School, a private Christian school in Bronxville, N.Y., who held mock slave auctions in her fifth-grade classroom, has been fired after being placed on administrative leave.
When the mock slave auctions were reported by a parent of one of the Black students in March, State Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation.
“The investigation found that in March, in two separate fifth-grade social studies classes, a teacher asked all of the African-American students in each class to raise their hands, and then instructed them to exit the classroom and stand in the hallway,” James’ office states, in a press release. “The teacher then placed imaginary chains or ‘shackles,’ on these students’ necks, wrists, and ankles, and had them walk back into the classroom.
“The teacher then instructed the African-American students to line up against the wall and proceeded to conduct a simulated auction of the African-American students in front of the rest of the class.
“These ‘auctions’ reenacted the sale of African-American students to their white counterparts.”
James said, “Every young person – regardless of race – deserves the chance to attend school free of harassment, bias, and discrimination. Lessons designed to separate children on the basis of race have no place in New York classrooms, or in classrooms throughout this country.”
She announced, on Wednesday, an agreement with the school, which is associated with the Village Lutheran Church in Bronxville.
Below are the requirements:
- Hire a chief diversity officer
- Develop a staff diversification plan
- Invest money to increase student diversity
- Implement a new code of conduct
- Prepare a school discipline reform plan
- Hire a diversity consultant
- Create a formal complaint procedure
- Maintain records of complaints and investigations
The school also contracted Dr. Candace Barriteau Phaire, an educator with expertise in racial sensitivity and diversity training, to lead anti-discrimination discussions and plan a comprehensive review of the school’s curriculum and practices.
But this could be too little too late for many students.
“The investigation found that the teacher’s reenactments in the two classes had a profoundly negative effect on all of the students present – especially the African-American students – and the school community at large,” according to James’ office.
This incident appears to be one of a long string of complaints of racism at the school. The investigation also revealed that the school had received parental complaints, prior to the March incident, regarding lack of racial sensitivity and diversity.
The school has a total of 318 students, 46% of whom are children of color.
Antinozzi has completely denied that she held the auction and said she plans to take legal action against The Chapel School in Bronxville.