ELKHART, Ind. – An Indiana high school teacher placed on leave over a controversial assignment about segregation was returned to the classroom Monday with a directive to participate in diversity awareness training.
Concord High School social studies teacher Laury Allen was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 4 after she instructed students to hang “whites only” and “blacks only” signs in the school hallway as part of a lesson on segregation, the Goshen News reports.
“The lesson was purposed to allow students to experience firsthand the indignities of segregation,” Superintendent John Trout said in a prepared statement announcing Allen’s return Monday.
“High school teachers across the United States use similar instruction techniques; however, prior school administration approval is obtained, intensive, advance instruction to students and parents is offered and division of the students is based on characteristics other than race, such as a student eye or hair color, birthdate, height or the number of letters in the student’s name,” he said.
School and district officials contend they did not give Allen prior approval for the lesson, and removed the signs and addressed students in class as soon as they were alerted. School officials conducted numerous interviews with staff and students regarding the incident and determined Allen did not act maliciously or intend to discriminate against anyone, according to the news site.
Allen, who was not identified in the school district press release, apologized for the assignment and must complete a diversity awareness class, WSBT reports.
A school employee later confirmed Allen’s identity to the Goshen News.
Trout said Allen will participate in a diversity awareness program conducted through the district’s employee assistance program by New Avenues to “safeguard against similar mistakes occurring in the future,” according to the site.
Some folks who commented online seemed to think it’s school officials who should be apologizing to Allen, not the other way around.
“Concord owes Laury Leedy Allen an apology for this big time,” Sue Wilden posted to Facebook.
“Thanks, Sue!” Allen replied. “I really appreciate your support.”
In a different post on the Goshen News site, Wilden alleges Allen “did notify proper officials and someone dropped the ball.
“And too bad if some little special flower had hurt feelings,” she wrote. “This was not supposed to be a feel good lesson. It was supposed to be real.”