Parents outraged after racial slurs, stereotypes are included in VB classroom assignment


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A 10th grade English lesson aimed at shedding light on the harm of stereotypes ended up turning into a list of racial slurs and disparaging comments that has parents “disgusted.”

A picture posted on WAVY-TV’s Facebook page on Friday showed the sheet of easel paper hanging on a cabinet. At the top, “Blacks” was written. Underneath, comments such as “All black people eat fried chicken,” “Can’t swim” and “Black people don’t succeed” were written by students, along with racial slurs.

“I thought it was a joke, a rumor or something,” Johari Spruill, said. Her child was in the class where the assignment took place.

“I didn’t believe it was real!” Spruill said. “I was extremely offended. I mean it was just unnecessary … very concerning as a parent.”

Spruill wasn’t alone, several other parents and students contacted 10 On Your Side 

“The intent of the assignment was for students to reflect on the harm that can be caused by stereotypes and unintended biases,” a statement sent to 10 On Your Side from Virginia Beach City Public Schools read. “However, the activity, as it was designed, only serves to perpetuate those stereotypes and does not align with our division’s curriculum, policies or core values.”

Kempsville High School principal Bill Harris called Spruill after she made her concerns vocal Friday morning to say that the assignment did not only include “blacks” but also other races and social categories. 

“I mean I would hate for someone to lose their job, but you have to now that that was inappropriate.” Spruill said. “To teach them as a lesson is OK, but to teach them in that manner or let them go off the rails with things … was just inappropriate.” 

A spokesperson for the school system said administration was made aware of the situation just Friday and is still investigating the matter. The spokesperson went on to say the investigation includes what disciplinary action needs to be taken.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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