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San Antonio charter school apologizes for 'insensitive' assignment about slavery

History assignment on slavery at Great Hearts Monte Vista (Photo courtesy parent)

A charter school located north of downtown is apologizing to parents and students after a teacher issued an assignment to students, asking them to describe the negative and positive aspects of slavery.

This is the paper Robert Livar's 8th grade son was given to fill out in history class Wednesday at great hearts Monte Vista Charter School.

"My wife picks him up from school and as soon as they pull out of the parking lot, he showed her the assignment and was pretty distraught by having to perform such a classroom assignment, and naturally my wife was upset, sent me the photo that went viral,” said concerned parent Robert Livar.

You can see his son wrote not applicable on the side labeled "positive aspects" and wrote a long list of "negative aspects". Robert says there is no excuse for this assignment.

"The assignment itself weighing the pros and cons of slave life and slave perspective quite honestly is just gross. There are no pros to one human being owning another."

The school responded, agreeing with parents, saying there is no debate about slavery-it is "immoral and a crime against humanity" In a statement from the school's superintendent they say: "our review of the situation found this incident to be limited to one teacher at just one campus. It was a clear mistake and we sincerely apologize for the insensitive nature of this offense." The school has placed the teacher on leave while they investigate. The history book that is used in class has also been removed and may be replaced.

"This is to be able to give school administrators and staff actionable items to implement change within their organizations, to make those organizations better, so this is a learning moment not just for our student and our family, but really this is a learning moment for the school,” said Livar.

Robert along with several parents met with the school Thursday. They say the school plans to have a response to their investigation by May 9th, and will determine if the teacher involved keeps his job.



Read the full statement from Great Hearts Monte Vista:

Last evening Great Hearts was made aware that one of our teachers at the Monte Vista North campus assigned homework that was very inappropriate and entirely inconsistent with Great Hearts philosophy and culture. In the 8th grade American History class students were asked to reflect on the differing sides of slavery. To be clear, there is no debate about slavery. It is immoral and a crime against humanity.
Our review of the situation found this incident to be limited to one teacher at just one campus. It was a clear mistake and we sincerely apologize for the insensitive nature of this offense. We want to thank the parents who voiced their concern and brought this to our attention. Please know Great Hearts is taking this seriously, including placing this teacher on leave while we have time to collect all the facts.
We are removing from classrooms and will conduct an audit of the American History textbook in use, "Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States". If we deem this textbook imprudent, we will permanently remove it and replace it with a history book that accurately reflects our values.
Finally, the headmaster and teachers at the Monte Vista North campus will spend time with the impacted students to explain the mistake and engage them in lessons that are more thoughtful about this period of American History.
We fully intend to make sure something like this does not happen again and will keep parents posted as we address this issue further. We have scheduled a follow up communication on May 9, 2018.
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