An Elkhart, Indiana, teacher was placed on paid administrative leave after reportedly instructing students to place “whites only” and “blacks only” signs above drinking fountains and bathrooms throughout the school.
In a statement to ABC 57, Concord Community School District Superintendent John Trout said that the teacher gave the instructions as part of an assignment to demonstrate government-sanctioned segregation.
Trout's full statement reads:
“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.
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"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.”
("Whites Only" sign posted about water fountain at Concord High School. Photo Credit: ABC 57)
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After the signs were discovered, school officials removed them and spoke with the students in the class to find out why the signs had been put up.
The teacher who instructed that the signs be put up was not identified.