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Tipsheet

Parents Outraged After Texas Elementary School Segregated Students for Instruction on Racism

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

An elementary school in San Antonio, Texas reportedly segregated students by hair color as part of a lesson on racism, even going as far as to tell students with lighter hair that they are not as smart as their classmates with darker hair.

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Leon Springs Elementary in the Northside Independent School District had fifth-graders participate in the controversial lesson plan in January, all without notifying the students' parents, according to News 4 San Antonio

Parents Mike and Brandi Lininger told the local outlet that their ten-year-old daughter was confused and hurt by the lesson, which took place in January.

"All of the dark-haired kids, the brown- and black-haired kids, were treated as the privileged ones and the blonde-haired and the redhead kids were the ones treated not so nicely," Brandi Lininger said.

According to the Liningers, students with light-colored hair were told by their teacher that they were not as intelligent as their dark-haired counterparts. The light-haired students were also given games to play that had missing pieces so they were unable to play and were instructed to clean up after the dark-haired students.

"[My daughter] was hurt, her friends, and she named to the principal and to district officials, names of her friends that were crying," Brandi Lininger told the outlet.

The students were also shown a Spike Lee film, "4 Little Girls," which details the 1963 bombing of an Alabama church carried out by the Ku Klux Klan and includes graphic autopsy images of the girls who were killed.

The teacher claims to have fast-forwarded past the graphic parts, the outlet notes, but the Liningers said the children still saw the photos.

"The things that she said that she skipped over, my daughter was able to describe to us to a 'T.' So that night our daughter was unable to go to sleep in our own room, she was scared," Mike Lininger said.

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The Lingers said the school typically notifies them about other events, including when students will be shown the movie, "The Polar Express," and when there is an upcoming pajama day but they received no notice that their child would be participating in a lesson on segregation.

Another parent confirmed the Lingers allegations to News 4 but wished to remain anonymous.

The experiment copied an exercise created by teacher Jane Elliott in the 1970s. Elliott's original experiment segregated kids as inferior or superior based on their eye colors in order to give them the experience of being a minority.

Northside ISD said in a statement, according to News 4, that the lesson plan and film were "not age-appropriate and will not be used again."

"The activity and video in question were part of a larger fifth-grade project-based lesson around the inequity of segregation ... While the campus did receive positive feedback from several parents ... District and campus administration recognize the parent's concerns and agree that the activity and video are not age-appropriate and will not be used again," the statement read.

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