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No adults were involved in mock 'slave auction,' Chatham County Schools says

J.S. Waters School in Goldston
Chatham County Schools
J.S. Waters School in Goldston

No adults were involved in a mock "slave auction" that was held earlier this month outside of an elementary school in Chatham County.

That is what an investigation by the Chatham County Schools has found, according to a news release from the school system.

"School board policy limits our ability to disclose many of the specifics of the investigation, however, we felt that it was important to share what policy allows us to," the release stated.

The system is taking specific steps because of this incident. They include:

● District leadership meeting with principals and assistant principals.

● Updating policies, and revising the student Code of Conduct to reflect how incidents specifically like this will be handled swiftly and with severe consequences.

● Clear expectations have been shared.

● Continued use of restorative practices to support our students, staff and schools as we move through the healing process.

● Identifying additional training for administrators, staff and teachers.

● Continued collaboration with community partners and other key stakeholders.

● Holding focus groups and restorative circles within the schools to provide an opportunity for students, staff, and families to engage in meaningful dialogue.

"We are taking steps to address and eliminate behaviors that are not consistent with our district’s core values and toward restoring relationships with our students, families and staff," the release stated.

The school system also reiterated that racist, homophobic, and xenophobic behaviors, comments, and acts are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

"We will ensure safe and respectful schools," the release stated.

The incident came to light after a parent of a student at J.S. Waters School in Goldston found out about what had happened from her child. Ashley Palmer later posted on Facebook what he had told her.

Parents showed up to a March 14 school board meeting to express their outrage both during the public comment section and outside at a rally.

During the meeting, Superintendent Anthony Jackson apologized to students "who have ever felt unsafe" while in the school system's care. He also commended students for exercising "the courage to step forward and speak their truth."

After the apology, the school board voted unanimously on a new policy brought forth by Jackson for dealing with racism in Chatham County schools in the future.

Under the new policy, parents and staff must be notified of discriminatory acts that happen on school grounds. This will be followed by an investigation with parents of the impacted students being informed of the result within five days.

The school system will also seek to make the incident public, with respect for confidentiality of those involved.

Staff will offer emotional support to students who have been harmed or witnessed a racist or discriminatory act. Offending students will complete a lesson or assignment to reflect on their wrongdoing in addition to disciplinary measures.

Jackson also said restorative justice practices may be used when appropriate. This will bring together both parties to come to a solution.

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