News May 03, 2022 at 11:00 am

Rochester teacher accused of making Black students pick cotton, wear shackles placed on leave

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey May 03, 2022 at 11:00 am

May 03, 2022 at 11:00 am | News

A Rochester teacher allegedly made Black students pick cotton --Photo Credit: Kimberly Vardeman

A Rochester teacher accused of racist behavior including making Black students pick cotton during a seventh-grade lesson has been placed on leave. According to Democrat & Chronicle, Patrick Rausch, who is at Rochester’s School of the Arts, also allegedly placed his mostly Black students in handcuffs and leg shackles.

Two students who reported Rausch to their mothers said the teacher also called himself “massah” and did not have any problems when White students in his class raised complaints. But that did not apply to Black students.

“I almost drove off the road,” Precious Tross, who is the mother of a student, said. Tross also shared the incident on Facebook. “She’s traumatized; she feels belittled,” she said in reference to her daughter. “He made a mockery out of slavery. How dare you.”

The lesson Rausch made the students pick the cotton was confirmed by the district. The district also said the White teacher’s actions were of “great concern” and he had been placed on administrative leave.

“The district takes these situations very seriously, as descriptions of what occurred in the classroom by the school community are extremely troubling,” the school board said in a statement.

Another mother, Vialma Ramos, also said Rausch allegedly used racial slurs while referencing her son’s developmental disability. “I have fought all along for Jahmiere to be included in everything his peers are, and this man degraded him, insulted him and made him not want to be Black,” said Ramos. “I was in shock.”

The two students also told their mothers that the White teacher made Black students wear handcuffs and leg shackles during a lesson at the beginning of the year, Democrat & Chronicle reported. And when the said students couldn’t free themselves, Rausch told them, “It’s OK; your ancestors couldn’t either.”

Tross and Ramos said they don’t want Rausch to ever teach again. The incident is currently being investigated by the school district.

“If that’s what happened, it’s problematic, it’s troubling and it shouldn’t be going on,” School Board President Cynthia Elliott said. “I don’t know why a person would want to teach Black and brown students in the city of Rochester if they feel like that.”

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