SHOREWOOD -- A teacher at Shorewood Intermediate School has been placed on leave because of concerns over a racist assignment. Students say they were asked to learn to play "slave games."
"I went to my mom, I'm like, mom, what are slave games,' said MaHailey Stephens, given racist assignment.
MaHailey Stephens is in seventh grade at Shorewood Intermediate School. She and other students allege they were separated into groups based on their race, and asked to research games from their cultures.
"She told us to all go get into our groups and then she told us that she would help us research slave games," said Stephens.
"I've never heard of such a thing. I never knew slaves had opportunities to play games," said Dr. Reshunda Stephens, concerned parent.
The incident happened on April 1. The superintendent of Shorewood School District says the school was made aware April 3. They sent a letter to parents saying in part:
"A teacher shared an activity with students on the subject of games from around the world. After the class on April 1, allegations were made that the teacher had suggested to African American students in the class that they research games that had been played by enslaved children. The administration became aware of these concerns on April 3. We immediately launched an internal investigation into the matter."
MaHailey's mother says this sort of thing has happened before, her older daughter had the same teacher last year.
"This child was asked to be part of the colored club," said MaHailey's mother when talking about her other daughter.
The teacher has been put on indefinite leave.
"How many more times do people have to feel uncomfortable until change happens," said Stephens.
"We have to work together, have those courageous conversations and provide support not only for the adults but most importantly for our children because it's not fair for our children to have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable," said Dr. Stephens.
FOX6 News spoke with several other children in the class off-camera who were placed in some of the other cultural groups who said they heard the comments and felt uncomfortable as well.
Read the full letter sent home to parents and guardians below:
"During a recent seventh grade Physical Education class at Shorewood Intermediate School, a teacher shared an activity with students on the subject of games from around the world. After the class on April 1, allegations were made that the teacher had suggested to African American students in the class that they research games that had been played by enslaved children. The administration became aware of these concerns on April 3. We immediately launched an internal investigation into the matter. We have placed the teacher on leave, pending the findings of the investigation.
We take these allegations extremely serious. Throughout this situation, student safety and well-being have been our top priority. Our school counselor, school psychologist, Dean of Students, and the SIS principal have been providing support to the students who were directly involved in the incident. We wanted to make you aware of this development, and to reiterate that our students and families remain our highest priority.
We are committed to providing an environment of inclusion in our schools. We will continue to assess the situation and ensure that we provide ongoing support to our students as we move forward. If your student has any concerns regarding this situation, please encourage them to contact their school administrators or school counselor."