'How Will You Punish This Slave' Assignment Doesn't Violate Rights: Judge

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A federal judge has ruled against two Black parents who sued their children's school district over an assignment that asked students how they would punish a "disrespectful" slave.

In the lawsuit, Dazrrea Ervins and Priscilla Jones accused Sun Prairie School District in Wisconsin of violating their civil rights and the rights of their middle school children after they were assigned to come up with a punishment for a slave that "disrespected his master" during Black History Month in February 2021.

"A slave stands before you. This slave has disrespected his master by telling him 'You are not my master!' How will you punish this slave?" the assignment, labeled as "Scenario lll," asked.

Along with complaints about the assignment, Ervins and Jones' lawsuit alleged that the district also failed to protect one of the children from racist bullying.

According to NBC News, U.S. District Judge James Peterson sided with Sun Prairie School District in the suit. Peterson said the parents failed to provide evidence that civil rights were violated by the class assignment or that racism had any impact on the children's education.

“A reasonable jury certainly could find that its content and timing were offensive, insensitive, and justifiably upset students and their families,” Peterson wrote. “But a hostile environment claim requires much more than a single upsetting episode.”

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Black History Month assignment was not a part of the school district's official curriculum. The three teachers who reportedly came up with the question were placed on administrative leave and eventually resigned.

With the case closed in federal court, complaints of the district violating state law will now go back to the Dane County Circuit Court.

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