New Hanover school’s slavery role-playing game prompts investigation

Codington Elementary School (Photo: WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A slavery-themed game played at a New Hanover County elementary school during Black History Month has prompted an investigation.

New Hanover County Board of Education released a statement Monday saying that using a game to teach students at Codington Elementary School about slavery was inappropriate.

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The statement says the board understands the lesson’s purpose and teachers didn’t intend to “downplay or trivialize slavery.” Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum says no personnel have been penalized.

The board has requested a report from the superintendent.

New Hanover County Schools told WWAY that the district established an Equity Committee that began meeting more than a year ago to discuss and enhance equity in access and opportunities in the district. They have already begun implicit bias training. The same training is already scheduled for all principals in June.

The district will also taking further actions including:

Cultural competency training for all employees is being scheduled for the start of the new school year. Meanwhile, all principals have been instructed to have discussions with their staffs about this topic.

Members of the Equity Team have attended workshops on equity and bias at events across the state recently. The team is in the process of scheduling their next meetings to debrief and form the next steps.

The district will conduct a large-scale book study on cultural competency, with one of the book recommendations for the study being Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students.

On March 18, the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Group will engage in a focus group discussion about equity, bias, and access in the district.

On March 26, the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Group will also engage in a focus group discussion about equity, bias, and access in the district.

Specific work is being done with secondary principals with regards to increasing enrollment of under-represented student groups in advance courses. Most of this work is being done with principals during the secondary schools’ break-out sessions at the Superintendent’s monthly principals’ meetings.

NHCS Human Resources has been directed to examine the on-boarding process for new teachers. The goal is to have cultural competency training for the several hundred new teachers hired each year and continue training with staff each year. Further, HR has been directed to continue to recruit more highly-qualified minority teachers.