A Kentucky high school is looking for ways to calm racial tension caused by a teacher’s inappropriate homework assignment. Lafayette High School principal Bryne A. Jacobs started with an apology, CBS News reports.
One of Jacobs’ ninth-grade English teachers at the school in Lexington, Kentucky, gave her class an assignment of answering seven statements about the N-word—spelling out the slur each time. She wanted them to confront the derogatory word in preparation for reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
WKYT-TV spoke with Kiarah Raglin, one the students, who recalled the shock and awkwardness of receiving the assignment.
“Everyone kind of laughed, it was a nervous laugh and then we kind of sat there and asked each other, did this really happen?” she said.
According to the news outlet, the assignment upset the ninth-grader, who was one of a few students of color among predominantly White classmates and a White teacher. She showed the assignment to her mother, who became outraged.
“These are not words that we use in our home,” Andrea Raglin, the girl’s mother, told WKYT. “These are not words that we, use- everybody likes to say ‘your music’. These are not words that my child is accustomed to.”
Central Kentucky Showing Up For Racial Justice told CBS that it supports educators assigning books that address controversial issues. However, the group that organizes White people for racial justice said the teacher crossed a line with her questionnaire.
Principal Jacobs told WKYT that he learned about the assignment when it went viral online.
“We were embarrassed by the assignment because we know many of our students and community members are offended,” he told WKYT. “I, myself, am offended by the particular assignment as well.”
The principal added that the teacher apologized, but he was silent about whether the educator will face any consequences.