5th Grade Teacher at South Carolina School Put on Administrative Leave After Homework Assignment on KKK

A Ku Klux Klan rally in Charlottesville, Va., in July. White supremacist groups have become more outspoken in the past year, and a fifth-grade teacher in South Carolina asked students to put themselves in Klansmen’s shoes.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“You are a member of the K.K.K.,” the fifth-grade homework assignment read. “Why do you think your treatment of African-Americans is justified?”

The work sheet, given on Thursday as part of a lesson on the Reconstruction period, caused an outcry after one student’s uncle, Tremain Cooper, posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook.

“This is my little 10-year-old nephew’s homework assignment today,” he wrote. “He’s home crying right now.”

Mr. Cooper identified the teacher as Kerri Roberts of Oak Pointe Elementary School in Irmo, S.C., a suburb of Columbia, and added, “How can she ask a 5th grader to justify the actions of the KKK???”

Reached by phone, Ms. Roberts’s husband said she was unavailable and was “not going to comment on anything.”

Katrina Goggins, a spokeswoman for the Lexington-Richland School District Five, which includes Oak Pointe, said the teacher had been placed on administrative leave while an investigation proceeds. She did not clarify whether the leave was paid or unpaid, writing in an email, “This is an ongoing investigation and a personnel matter, so we are limited on the details we can/will provide.”

In a statement provided by Ms. Goggins, the school district said: “South Carolina standards for fifth grade require lessons on Reconstruction and discriminatory groups, including the K.K.K. We must teach the standard, but we are taking steps to ensure this particular assignment will never be used again in District Five schools.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Maggie Astor