Lafayette HS teacher’s controversial assignment draws anger from community
NOTE: This story contains language that some may find offensive. WTVQ has included a portion of the school assignment discussed in this story in the interests of complete transparency and forthrightness.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – An assignment given to Lafayette High School students reading Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” drew considerable ire from community members, offended by the inclusion of a racial slur.
A Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) spokesperson said that the assignment was handed out last week on Wednesday, and was intended to prepare students for reading the book, which includes the use of the N-word. A portion of the assignment appears below.
The FCPS spokesperson says the teacher intended for the assignment to create a safe environment for the students to talk about the content of the book, in which the epithet is used with some frequency. The novel was published in 1960 and is set in the south in the 1930s.
Whatever intentions the teacher may have had, however, did not sit well for many in the community, some of whom protested outside of the Fayette County Public School offices on Main Street Monday night.
Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk acknowledged to the Lexington Herald-Leader that there were problems with the assignment. “As it pertains to this assignment, as I reviewed the assignment, it appears some of the questions went beyond a direct connection to the text,” Caulk told the newspaper.
Lafayette’s principal, who was in meetings Monday, said on Tuesday that he has addressed the assignment with parents and people in the community via email and telephone calls. The FCPS spokesperson says that both the principal and the teacher also spoke with the students in the class and apologized. According to the spokesperson, the students were understanding of the situation.
The school district says the teacher will be attending a training class, though no word on what, exactly, that training will entail.