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Teacher Made Daughter Pretend to be a Runaway Slave During Overnight Trip, Mother Alleges

An Illinois mother is furious after she says her 11-year-old daughter was forced to participate in an Underground Railroad simulation during a class trip last month.

Bailey Peterson, a sixth-grade student at McKinley Junior High School, said she was excited for the three-night trip to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin where she and 70 of her schoolmates studied nature and conducted experiments, local station ABC7 reported. Things took an odd turn, however, when she said her teachers asked her to participate in a mock Underground Railroad game.

“I did have fun. It’s just what happened that drove me away from being excited about it,” Peterson said. “They talked to us about how we were runaways, and how our cover story was that we were a singing choir from Georgia called The Peaches.”

The child’s mother, Dawn Peterson, said she was outraged when her daughter told her what happened. She said school leaders failed to inform parents about the activity, which lasted almost two hours.

“She was almost nervous to tell me that they felt funny about it because all of the kids were black and the teachers were white,” Peterson told ABC 7. “[I] couldn’t find anything in any paperwork that stated consent. Not even letting us know there would be a simulation at all, let alone this particular simulation.”

South Holland Superintendent Dr. Jerry Jordan said the school has been taking students on  the nature trip for almost 10 years now, and that it’s something they look forward to every year. Jordan said the school has never received complaints about the Underground Railroad simulation before.

“… It’s a part of history. A sad part of history that our people had to go through,” he said. “And I think bringing something to light for the children, it helped them better understand what our foreparents went through.”

Moving forward, Jordan said the school will better communicate with parents about class trip activities.

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