Hold officials accountable

Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

Nearly two months after a fourth-grade teacher reportedly conducted a mock slave auction, officials at Watertown City School District have still not offered any kind of response.

Patricia Bailey, a North Elementary School teacher, is said to have instructed two black students in her class to stand on a table May 28 while white students bid on them. They also were allegedly told to refer to the students portraying buyers as “master” for the remainder of the lesson.

On May 30, the district said it “received complaints from parents that a fourth-grade teacher exercised poor judgment in teaching a recent lesson. The teacher was placed on administrative leave pending a full investigation into the matter.” On June 5, it said, “The public can be assured that the Board of Education is taking all necessary and appropriate steps to remedy this matter.”

This last statement is demonstrably false. District officials have had plenty of time to investigate this issue and report on what they found. But the only thing they’ve accomplished is to hide in their offices and wait for this controversy to blow over.

A month before the incident took place, Ms. Bailey notified the district that she intended to retire at the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year. Authorities with the school board had hoped that residents would forget about this story so they wouldn’t have to deal with it.

By now, they should have concluded all the interviews with students who were in Ms. Bailey’s class that day. They still haven’t identified her as the teacher involved in this incident.

Their avoidance on this matter is unacceptable. Is this an indication of how they choose to respond to controversies?

They must be held accountable for the way they deal with serious issues that arise. City residents, particularly district students and their parents, deserve to know what officials have discovered as a result of their investigation into this matter and how they intend to prevent similar incidents.

If authorities won’t come forward willingly with the information they’ve obtained, people need to demand it from them. Attend regular school board meetings and insist members address the problem.

Don’t let them sweep this issue under the rug by pretending it’s no one’s business what transpired. Representatives of the government work for us, and it’s time for officials overseeing this arm of the government to discuss what they’ve learned.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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