When Precious Tross picked her daughter up from school last week, seventh grade Ja’Nasia Brown of Rochester’s School of the Arts recounted a story of her day that nearly drove her mother off of the road. In Brown’s social studies class last Tuesday, she and her Black classmates were forced to pick cotton as part of teacher Patrick Rausch’s “lesson”. It’s reported that he referred to himself throughout the day as “massah” and placed leg shackles and handcuffs on students.
“She’s traumatized; she feels belittled,” Tross said of her daughter. “He made a mockery out of slavery. How dare you.” The mother also posted an image to Facebook of the handful of cotton Brown brought home. But her daughter was not the only child that day that would go home to share the story.
Vialma Ramos, mother of Jahmiere O’Neal, was also in shock after hearing what took place that afternoon. She initially believed that her son was being exaggerative or perhaps had made the whole story up, until she saw Tross’ post on Facebook. According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, once she inquired further, she was also told by her child that Rausch used slurs directed at O’Neal’s developmental disabilities.
“I have fought all along for Jahmiere to be included in everything his peers are, and this man degraded him, insulted him and made him not want to be Black,” Ramos said. “I was in shock.”
Apparently, this was not the first racist encounter the students had with this teacher. They were placed in leg shackles and handcuffs earlier this year as well. And when the largely Black classroom of students struggled to get out of the chains, Rausch allegedly stated, “It’s OK; your ancestors couldn’t either.”
“I am a very, very angry parent, and I’m going to stand on all 10 of my toes until I get justice,” Tross said. She additionally stated that Rausch has made previous comments about her daughter’s weight, statements that lead to Brown to stop eating breakfast for a period of time. She and other parents are considering legal action against Rausch and the school district. But at the very least, they want to see to it that he never teaches again.
Fow now, Rausch is being placed on administrative leave, and could not be reached by reporters for comment.