Long Island teacher apologizes for having students add funny captions to photos of former slaves

A New York middle school teacher has apologized after assigning students to write captions for photos of former slaves from the post-Civil War era, as well as telling them to “make it funny” and “don’t bore me.”

“It is with the deepest sense of respect that I apologize to the students, families and larger Freeport community for my insensitive words and actions last week,” the unidentified teacher from John W. Dodd Middle School said, according to NBC News. “As a teacher and fellow member of this school community, it is my responsibility to exercise the highest degree of care and thought in all of my student and staff interactions.

"I failed to do so last week, and I fully accept that I must work hard to rebuild trust from my students, colleagues and the community,” the teacher added.


Last week, the Long Island teacher had their eighth-grade students examine black-and-white photos of sharecroppers in cotton fields after the Civil War, NBC News reports.

The lesson plan quickly garnered backlash on social media after a girl, whose friend was given the assignment, told her grandmother what she’d heard.

Darlene McCurty, the student’s grandmother, posted a photo on Facebook showing the worksheets, which had captions such as “black girls work hard play hard,” “Us black people need to get out” and “black girl magic."

Freeport Public Schools Superintendent Kishore Kuncham reportedly announced last Friday that an investigation would be launched into the incident and the teacher was placed on administrative leave. He said in a statement Tuesday that probe determined “this lesson was poorly conceived and executed.”

“Aside from the fact that this is a poor lesson, it is an insensitive trivialization of a deeply painful era for African Americans in this country, and it is unacceptable,” he said.

Dodd Middle School had a student body that was 66 percent Hispanic and 25 percent African American during the 2017-18 school year, NBC News notes, citing the New York State Education Department.