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'We were uncomfortable': Shorewood student says teacher forced her to reenact slavery

Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-14 11:06:16-04

A Shorewood teacher is on leave after complaints of a racially charged assignment.

April 1st was a typical day in gym class until 7th grader Alexis Averette says she was assigned an odd game.

“Ms. Zehren forced me and my partner to reenact slavery in front of the entire class," she said. "When we told her we were uncomfortable she told us we still had to do it."

While some students presented dodge ball, others say they were paired up by race and told to reenact slavery games. When Averette and her partner proposed another game, the students say they were told it was too common.

When Averette told her parents her mother and father were shocked.

“She came home and she told me she had to reconstruct games ever played during slavery," said Averette's father. "Yeah, I was completely shocked. I knew it was a problem immediately when she said she was uncomfortable."

Averette and other parents voiced their concerns to the school. In response, Zehren was escorted out of building and placed on leave.

Jan Zehren taught physical education in the Shorewood School District for 36 years.

The school district sent a letter to students and parents saying they were investigating.

Parents like Averette are seeking justice and want Zehren fired.

“We don’t want to here and that’s not just for my child but for any other child. No one should have to go through this,” Mr. Averette said.

In a statement, Bryans David, Shorewood Superintendent, said, “We are committed to providing an environment of inclusion in our schools.”

We reached out to Zehren at her home, but did not get an answer.