Slavery Book Lawsuit

By: AP
By: AP

The father of a black student has sued a Detroit-area school district claiming that his daughter was racially harassed by a fifth-grade teacher's reading aloud from a book about slavery.
The suit claims Jala Petree's teacher at Margaret Black Elementary School in Sterling Heights read excerpts from Julius Lester's "From Slave Ship to Freedom Road" that contain racial epithets and racist characterizations, The Macomb Daily reported.
The suit against Warren Consolidated Schools was filed Nov. 3 in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, according to court records. It was filed by Jala's father, Jamey Petree, and seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
District spokesman Bob Freehan told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the district hasn't been served with the suit but plans a vigorous defense. He said the excerpts were read last school year during a unit to prepare students for Black History Month.
The reading was from supplemental material provided by a textbook company, Freehan said, and following the reading students were involved in what he called a "positive" discussion about the excerpts.
The lawsuit claims the reading has "affected the conditions of learning duties and the advantages of her further education, and seriously affected her mental and emotional well-being, past, present and future."
Lawyer Scott E. Combs, who is representing the family, told The Detroit News that letters and calls to the district failed to remedy the family's concerns over the literature and the parents eventually pulled the child from the district.
"I tried long and hard to get answers and an explanation from the school," he said.
Freehan, however, said the school has given the family and its lawyer detailed responses. He said family didn't inquire about the lesson until April, more than three months after the lesson was presented.


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  • by Jim Location: Jackson on Nov 13, 2010 at 02:58 AM
    I'm going to be frank, but here's what I think. I think they should eliminate Detroit from the map. All problems solved.
  • by David Location: Texas on Nov 11, 2010 at 03:11 PM
    Its a good thing the teacher didn't read anything sexual. If they had, this father would have went postal!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 11, 2010 at 09:46 AM
    To ignore the truth of events in history is to invite history to repeat itself. Just because you don't like something and close your eyes to seeing it does not make it any less true. This father is putting his daughter at a disadvantage in life. Most people want to know the truth of their heritage; the good and the bad!
  • by Kelly Location: Lansing on Nov 11, 2010 at 09:31 AM
    And if the judge doesn't immediately throw out the case as being FRIVOLOUS, then we'll all get to pay for this greedy parent's so-called outrage. Please remember folks, our judges are elected officials. It's time for them to start using some common sense in these matters. If not, it's time to replace them.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 11, 2010 at 09:06 AM
    I dont know what the problem is, Democrats are always talking about slavery..Maybe this father should be suing his HERO's instead of a school. For it is the Democratic party who keep the talk on blacks and slavery in the PRESENT!
  • by Anonymous on Nov 11, 2010 at 08:56 AM
    it is this type of action that is interpreted as racist among the white community.
  • by Sans on Nov 11, 2010 at 08:39 AM
    this is a book about history, this really really happened. I think this man just really really wants M-O-N-E-Y!! They read books about the consentration camps in Europe and the names the Jews were called, they read books about the Japanise consetration camps in Nevada, and what the Jananise were called. I don't hear of either groups screaming racism. This is a fact, this all happened and I would guess the teacher was trying to teach them something as the book is entitled Slavery to Freedom Road. Think that says it all.
  • by Person Location: Michigan on Nov 11, 2010 at 08:18 AM
    Here we go again: another frivolous lawsuit. Bright idea: all of us from different ethnic backgrounds should sue all others who ever said/did anything to offend/oppress/exterminate our forefathers. Fact of life: ALL people all over the world have, at one time or another, been subject to such treatment. It's history and, in this case, although it's a sad part of American history, it's still history and, like the Holocaust, should always be remembered lest it happen again.
  • by MATY on Nov 11, 2010 at 07:10 AM
    WILL YOU PEOPLE GROW UP!!!!!!!!!
  • by david Location: charlotte on Nov 11, 2010 at 06:30 AM
    so you dont want your kid to know that this nation was involved in slavery 200 years ago why not and how is this going to hurt the kid years down the line i would be proud to know that the nation that i live in freed it self from that so long ago and injoy living here theres a lot of other places that you can live and not be free
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