The notorious photo was taken during a lesson about the Pilgrims, early European settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for third graders at Mitchell Elementary School.
School officials had a lot of explaining to do after a classroom photo from a history lesson showed a smiling teacher and two white students holding their black classmate with “leading strings.”
“If you look at that picture out of context, what are you going to think? It’s clear what it looks like, it’s disgusting,” said a parent who wished to remain anonymous.
“We realize without this context added to the photo that was shared by the classroom teacher it could be perceived differently. Please note it was never the intent of the lesson to demean or degrade any one person or group,” Superintendent of Schools Derek Swenson wrote, adding that the local authorities started an “inquiry into the complaint.”
A portion of the lesson “focused on 17th-century attire — particularly the garments worn by parents, children, toddlers, and infants,” Swenson cited the Director of Education from Plimoth Plantation as saying.
“Specifically the garment is worn by toddlers commonly used tethering straps to assist them when learning to walk,” Swenson added.
Some parents weren’t okay with the explanation by the school, however.
“She needs to take her stupid a** to work at a ZOO. She should NEVER be trusted to EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN. FIRE HER A**,” one person wrote about the teacher.
“You can’t f**king explain away this ignorance and insensitivity,” someone else wrote.
The school has apologized for the message the photo sent. “The Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District sincerely apologizes to the students, staff, and community at large for this unfortunate incident.”