MILWAUKEE -- A substitute teacher for the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM) who handed out a controversial assignment about the KKK spoke out for the first time on Tuesday, December 20th.
The assignment was to write a persuasive paper defending Klan members on trial. Many were unhappy to hear an assignment like this was given to a group of seventh graders. But the substitute teacher said this assignment has been taken out of context. She said there was no malicious intent -- and the assignment was only meant to push her students intellectually. For that, she said she will not apologize.
"I am shocked that you would ask a seventh grade African-American student to put himself in the mind frame of an organization that hates you because of the color of your skin," said an aunt of a student at BEAM.
"We've made our demands to make sure the environment is actually a good communicating learning environment for the children -- and that they shouldn't have to make decisions about the KKK. That's against us culturally and spiritually," said community activist Tory Lowe.
The substitute teacher said she sees it differently.
"I am disappointed in the lack of truth being told," said Lydia Crape.
Crape spoke exclusively with FOX6 News on Tuesday. She has been at BEAM since the start of the school year. She said a research paper about the Ku Klux Klan followed by the watching of "To Kill a Mockingbird" has been taken out of context.
"It was totally for the critical thinking," Crape said.
Crape said students were looking forward to the assignment.
"Whenever anybody in my class gets excited about something, I will run with it," Crape said.
Crape said she received Principal William Butler's approval and he confirmed that. But a note on the school's website says the following:
"BEAM feels that the objective of teaching students how to write persuasively is important. However, we feel that the choice of topic is inappropriate for a seventh grade class. A new topic will be selected for the assignment."
Crape told FOX6 News she will not apologize for pushing her students to a new level of thinking.
Principal Butler gave FOX6 News a statement after a meeting with concerned parents on Tuesday morning. It reads as follows:
"We are continuing to improve not only academically but also the relationship we have with our parents. We look forward to having Ms. Crape back to work. We've got calls in support of her from community members and parents."