Mass. School Apologizes for ‘Tethering Straps’ Photo of Black Elementary Student

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A Massachusetts school district has apologized for a viral social media photo it says was “perceived differently” because it was “taken out of context.” However, the family of the Black girl with leashes attached to her says it is unacceptable, according to CBS Boston.

Workers at Plimouth Plantation visited third-graders at Mitchell Elementary School on Friday, Oct. 13 for an enrichment program about how pilgrims used to live and their wardrobe. A teacher took a photo of white students holding the Black child’s teathers and posted it online to share with student’s families.

“I think it’s atrocious,” one anonymous parent told the news station Thursday, Oct. 19. “I think it’s horrifying. I was stunned, I was horrified.”


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Superintendent Derek J. Swenson issued a statement Wednesday explaining the circumstances around the image of a Black child with white children on either side of her. He said the director of education at Plimouth Plantation explained tethering straps were used to help toddlers walk during the period.

“We realize without this context added to the photo that was shared by the classroom teacher it could be perceived differently,” the statement from the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District head said. “Please note it was never the intent of the lesson to demean or degrade any one person or group. The Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District sincerely apologizes to the students, staff and community at large for this unfortunate incident.”

The parents of the girl, who supposedly volunteered for the lesson, have not publicly spoken about the incident but added to CBS Boston that they are still processing what happened.

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