By Beth Germano

BRIDGEWATER (CBS) – There is growing outrage over a classroom photo taken at the Mitchell Elementary School in Bridgewater that administrators say has been taken out of context.

It was taken during an enrichment program about the Pilgrims, but it’s now become a lesson in appearances. Some say it looks like a young black girl being enslaved by her classmates.

“If you look at that picture out of context, what are you going to think. It’s clearly what it looks like, it’s disgusting,” said a parent who did not want to be identified.

Bridgewater school officials apologized for this controversial photo. (Facebook Photo)

Social media exploded when the photo was posted. School officials say the instructor in the photo is the director of education at Plimoth Plantation.

The straps that are pictured around the eight year old girl are so-called “lead strings” used in the 17th century to keep children from wandering or to help them learn to walk. The girl apparently volunteered to take part in the lesson.

Parent Andrea St. Clare was so stunned she picked up her child early from school. “It seems like enslavement of a person. Even the color of the child has nothing to do with it,” she said.

Superintendent Derek Swenson issued a statement saying, “It was never the intent of the lesson to demean or degrade any one person or group. The Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District sincerely apologizes to the students, staff and community at large for this unfortunate incident.”

Some parents say it could have been handled better. “I can’t imagine anyone meant any harm, but the basic fact is someone wasn’t thinking,” said a parent picking up their children from school.

The parents of the student say they have met with administrators. A spokesperson for Plimoth Plantation also apologized but said it’s a program they’ve taken to numerous classrooms.

Beth Germano

Comments (32)
  1. Tethering straps? I see no evidence of historical use in either Elizabethan or Jacobean times. How can anyone lack awareness to see that taking this picture would be problematic?

  2. As a history buff and Educator of 30+ years, I have not seen tethering of children indicated as something that was a major part of child rearing at that time. Why would that be such a major part of a lesson on history for young students that it needed to be demonstrated, not making that connection? Why tie up anybody? And why, in the climate the country is now in, could you not see that this would come off as offensive? The children did not need a demonstration of kids being tethered to learn about the history of that period. There are so many aspects of how different life was then that could be taught to the students that child tethering never ever had to come up other than a brief comment and perhaps a generic picture. I call foul and say this person knew what she was doing and what it would come off as……

    1. Were you born so stupid or did you have to work at it?

  3. So when a teacher fails to see color and treats all of the children in her class the same regardless of color, and allows a little, black girl to dress as the historic, youngest child of a Plymouth Plantation family, tethered to her older siblings to keep her from wandering off and serving as lunch for a bear, it’s racist?

    Only in Obozo’s America.

  4. Diane Nadeau says:

    The photo made me gasp. Someone was stupid alright. Swenson will be having to explain this for the next month. I’m sure this story will go viral.

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