School will no longer have students participate in slave event - WFSB 3 Connecticut

School will no longer have students participate in slave reenactment

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

After students acted like slaves during a controversial field trip, the school has decided to no longer participate in the activity.

One couple said their 12-year-old daughter came home from the field trip with horror stories, and now they've filed a complaint against the school district.

Sandra Baker and her husband James Baker have been on a 10-month fight with the Hartford School District and even taken it to the school board.

It started during the past school year when their daughter was a seventh-grader at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. She and her classmates went on a four-day trip to the Nature's Classroom in Charlton, MA.

On the third night, there was a slavery re-enactment that Sandra Baker said none of the parents knew about.

James Baker shared his daughter's experiences with the Hartford School Board.

"'The instructor told me if I were to run, they would whip me until I bled on the floor and then either cut my Achilles so I couldn't run again, or hang me,'" he told the school board in his daughter's words.

Baker said her 12-year-old daughter and her classmates were called the "N-word" and were chased through the woods.

The school announced seventh-graders will continue to go on the annual four-day field trip to Nature's Classroom, but an automated voicemail went out last week told parents they're taking out the slavery re-enactment portion of the trip.

This year's seventh-graders are expected to go again in November.

"My mom doesn't want me to go because she heard what happened and she doesn't want more stuff to happen," said Yaricza Marie, who is a seventh-grader at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy. "That was really disrespectful, especially for a trip not a lot of people get to go on."

Kimberly Rivera said she missed the trip when her class went two years ago.

"My mom couldn't afford to go so when the kids came back and told me about it, I was glad that I didn't go. Because they said they were treated like slaves," Rivera said. "I don't want to be treated like slaves."

Administrators with Nature's Classroom talked to Eyewitness News after the station was the first to report it.

"I could not expect the word because we are so afraid to even say it that it would be acceptable to any terminology at Nature's Classroom," Director Dr. John Santos previously said.

Santos told Eyewitness News he can't believe any of his staff would use the "N-word" but defends the program. He said he feels it is age appropriate and has received good reviews from other schools.

"The activity itself has current and historical relevance," he previously said. "We choose to do that. It is play acting, but cautionary play acting."

Sandra Baker told Eyewitness News she says she's still not 100 percent pleased. Baker said she'd like to see the field trip to Nature's Classroom nixed all together.

The Bakers have since pulled their daughter out of the Hartford school system.

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