Sacramento Elementary School Teacher Throws Away Students’ Black Lives Matter Project

Photo: Craig Ruttle (AP)

Black lives matter to some, but not all.

An elementary school in Sacramento is under fire after one of its teachers allegedly threw away students’ Black Lives Matter movement art project, reportedly saying it was too political and inappropriate.

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This follows a volunteer teacher’s assignment to create art about causes people cared about.

Perhaps the school staffer, identified as Mr. Madden, would’ve been more interested if the assignment was meant for white people who didn’t care.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fired off a letter to San Juan Unified School District condemning the Del Paso Manor Elementary School for censorship and unlawful restrictions on student speech.

According to NBC affiliate KCRA, the parent volunteer, identified as Ms. Kincaid, was banned from teaching any further classes following an “uncomfortable” exchange with the teacher.

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“(The teacher) pressed our parent to say why she felt that Black Lives Matter was an appropriate topic to be discussed at school, and also to explain how Black Lives Matter was something they should be talking about when there’s no shootings that happened at the school,” ACLU Foundation of Northern California attorney Abre Conner wrote.

The letter went on to detail how the unnamed school’s principal “backed Mr. Madden by irrationally stating that Black Lives Matter lessons are political statements and therefore off limits for public display.”

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Conner also said the school could not “single out” the artwork and removing it is “an impermissible viewpoint restriction.”

Because of the “harm” caused to his clients, the lawyer requested that the school district issue a public apology, along with other concessions, including cultural and sensitivity training for staff and parent engagement training.

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The school district held its ground about how the assignment was for students to produce artwork related to changes they wanted to see within the school, not larger social issues.

“Students whose artwork focused on large social issues, which varied in topic, and was not directly tied to the school, were asked by the teacher to complete another poster the next day.”

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“All artwork that met the assignment’s purpose was displayed in the classroom,” KCRA reported.

The ACLU doubled down, calling out the bigotry sweeping across their region.

In a statement, the organization indicated how the school’s actions are part of “a pervasive pattern of anti-blackness in California schools,” noting how it had to intervene in school districts across California, including Fresno Unified, Visalia Unified, and Alameda Unified, for creating a racially hostile climate for Black students and for students who support Black students.

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“Black students in the state, and across the country, are consistently discriminated against and targeted by teachers and administrators, with research showing that they are 3.4 times more likely to be disciplined than white students,” the statement concluded.

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!