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Detroit teacher could face discipline over alleged ‘racially demeaning’ slavery comments

Anthony Lanzilote

A teacher is under investigation by the Detroit school district after a parent raised concerns about alleged comments the teacher made about slavery during a class lesson — comments the parent described as racially demeaning to students.

The incident happened at Renaissance High School in the Detroit school district, though it’s unclear exactly when. The parent, Jamon Jordan, posted about it on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. He said his son is in the teacher’s world history class.

Asked about the comments Wednesday, a district spokeswoman said an investigation is underway.

“The allegations are disturbing and do not reflect the expectations of our district,” spokeswoman Chrystal Wilson said. “We immediately initiated an investigation regarding the allegations and will determine disciplinary action after the investigation is complete.”

At issue are comments Jordan said the teacher made after showing a video about Greece that referred to helots, a group of people in ancient Greece who were forced into servitude. Jordan said the teacher then compared students in his class with helots and said they were slaves to teachers.

Jordan said the teacher also made a comment questioning whether a student could read.

“You have a teacher in Renaissance High School, teaching World History, who is racially demeaning the students by comparing them to ‘slaves’ and then questioning their ability to read,” Jordan said.

“His words were not a mistake or in error. He meant to say what he said, and he meant to demean, and belittle a group of young people in his class. The fact that this teacher is white and the students are African American merely crystallizes the issue here.”

Jordan’s post garnered a number of replies, including several from members of the Detroit district’s school board and one from a deputy superintendent.

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