Photo: Jessica Boyle (second from the left) with other Sewell Point 4th grade teachers
A teacher in Virginia is in hot water with parents after her lesson plan on the Civil War included a mock slave trade.
Jessica Boyle, a fourth grade teacher, ordered the class’ black and mixed race children to stand on one side of the class room, and had the white students on the other side. The white students then took turns buying the other students.
Shortly after parents learned of the lesson, the school, Sewells Point Elementary, was flooded with complaints. Principal Mary B. Wrushen wrote parents that Boyle had indeed gone too far.
“The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation,” Wrushen wrote.
The “slave auction” took place at the school named after one of the Civil War’s earliest battles at Sewells Point. The controversial lesson came less than two weeks before the 150th anniversary of the conflict.
Elizabeth Thiel Mather, spokeswoman for Norfolk public schools, said Boyle “has not conducted a mock slave auction in class before,” and that “appropriate personnel action is being taken.”
Boyle has worked at Sewell Point for six years.