Teacher taught daughter ‘3 good reasons for slavery,’ mom says
VENTNOR — A Ventnor mom says her daughter's fourth-grade teacher taught her class there were good reasons for slavery.
And the mother says school officials seemed more interested in her relationship to her daughter than discussing the lesson when she met with them Friday morning.
Randi Carter Alston told New Jersey 101.5 that her daughter, Le'anni, had become reluctant to go to her classes at Ventnor Elementary School. Le'anni on Tuesday told her mom that the teacher talked about supposed positive aspects of slavery. which made her uncomfortable, Alston said.
"My daughter has always been taught that slavery is a bad thing, so that's why she came home confused because it came from the teacher," Randi Carter Alston said.
Alston had her daughter explain what the teacher said in a video posted to her Facebook page.
"Some times people didn't have time to grow crops and stuff," Le'anni said was the first reason. "Some people wanted to be slaves ... and three there were good slave owners, or something like that," Le'anni said, adding that the teacher followed up by having students offer reasons not to have slaves.
In the video, Alston asked her daughter the race of her teacher, who Alston identified as "Miss Tinnuci," and asked how many "brown kids" are in the social studies class. Le'anni said Tinnuci was white and there are no other black students. "Unacceptable," Alston said.
There is a teacher named Denise Tinnuci at Ventnor Elementary School, according to the school website.
Alston, who has been in the district for just the past two months, said she sent an email to principal Carmela Somershoe and the state department of education.
Friday was the first day since the video was posted that class was back in session after two snow days. Alston and Le'anni were invited to a meeting at the school with Somershoe and the teacher to let both sides explain what happened, she said.
Instead, the board of education's lawyer led the meeting, and Somershoe was not allowed to speak, according to Alston.
"I expressed how I was a little bothered that I was misled and I thought we were going to get some answers," Alston said. She told New Jersey 101.5 the lawyer took the blame for "tricking" her into attending the meeting.
Alston said the questions focused more on the nature of her relationship with Le'anni. But the attorney also said her firm would investigate the allegation, Alston said.
"I thought I was going to get some kind of answers or clarity or something but kinda of got grilled like I was on trial," she said.
Alston also has a son who goes to Ventnor.
"I really don't feel comfortable sending them back because they brickwalled me," Alston said. "I'm probably just going to pull them out and try home schooling them. Maybe try to get them in a different school."
Superintendent Ellen Johnson did not yet return a message.
According to the National Center of Education, Ventnor has 438 students, 19 of whom are black.