Indiana teacher on leave after ‘whites only’ signs posted at high school

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ELKHART, Ind. (December 5, 2015) — A northern Indiana teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave after telling students to place “whites only” and “blacks only” signs near drinking fountains and bathrooms in the high school as part of a social studies assignment.

Concord Community Schools Superintendent John Trout said in a statement released to ABC57 that the teacher wanted to demonstrate the feel of government-sanctioned segregation.

Trout says the teacher didn’t seek approval from the school or the school district to perform the assignment. He said “sometimes a teacher makes a mistake when attempting to educate young teenagers.” He says the signs were removed when school officials became aware of them.

Trout says the teacher, who has not been identified, will remain on leave while the school district investigates.

The superintendent’s full statement is below:

Concord Community Schools strives to create a welcoming atmosphere for all of our students, who come from many diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.  Concord High School’s stated mission is to both academically challenge and equip our students.  To that end, many of our high school educators include in their instruction current and historical events that may contain controversial subjects and topics.  Unfortunately, like all of us, sometimes a teacher makes a mistake when attempting to educate young teenagers.  On December 4, 2015, one such mistake was made.

As part of a social studies course assignment during the first hour class, a high school teacher instructed students to place several signs in the high school hallway near bathrooms and drinking fountains stating “Blacks Only” and “Whites Only,” in an effort to demonstrate the feel of government sanctioned segregation that previously existed in portions of our country.  The teacher did not seek any prior approval of this assignment from high school or school corporation administrators. Upon learning of the sign postings, school officials immediately removed the signs and addressed the students in class.  The teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation of the matter.

Concord Community Schools appreciates its educators attempting to be innovative in their teaching approach.  However, methods and tactics that can be viewed as harassing or discriminatory to students and teachers are not appropriate and are prohibited in our schools.

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