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Mason teacher resigns, claiming school blocked Black history lessons

Posted at 8:25 PM, Feb 26, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — A Mason teacher resigned after the school district refused to let her teach Black history.

In January, Katelyne Thomas emailed district officials suggesting that North Aurelius Elementary, where she taught special education, participate in the week of action educational program organized by Black Lives Matter at School.

Thomas says she was then disciplined by the administration for violating Mason Public Schools’ controversial topics policy.

“I was angry and just not sure what to do as an educator with students of color in my classroom,” she said.

Thomas believes three words made the lessons controversial.

“The ‘Black lives matter’ phrase specifically is what made it controversial,” she said.

Mason superintendent Ronald Drzewicki denies blocking Thomas from teaching Black history. Drzewicki says that the district screens curriculum before it’s taught in classrooms “to verify accuracy and consider the age appropriate nature,” which is why it provides resources for teachers during Black History Month.

Thomas says the material given to teachers didn’t accurately reflect the black experience in America.

“Only including the whitewashed concepts that I learned when I was growing up just reinforces the need for change and for growth within curriculum,” she said.

In her letter of resignation, Thomas urged the district to “prioritize diversity and inclusivity at all levels.

“I’m married to a Black man. I have biracial children,” she said. “Mason is largely white, but I still feel that it’s my responsibility as an educator to teach beyond just our demographic.”

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Mason, Leslie

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree