COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Paulding County mother says she was shocked when she heard about what happened on her 9-year-old daughter's field trip. She took her concerns to the principal and is demanding change.
Gladese Cleaves' daughter is in third grade at Abney Elementary School in Paulding County. Their class went on a field trip to the Mable House in Mableton last week.
"The kids were greeted by a woman who portrayed herself as a slave, she spoke slave talk and never broke character," said Cleaves.
Cleaves' 19-year-old daughter was a chaperone and took photos of the program.
"It wasn't right at all, it was very upsetting for me, the whole experience," said the 19-year-old.
Cleaves says her third-grader, along with other students, were placed in front of the group as if they were on an auction block, holding what is said to be an historical document of a bill of sale. She says the demonstration was to show how much slaves would be sold for and that price was compared to today's cost of luxury automobiles.
Gladese Cleaves says she wants teachers and staff to undergo training following her daughter's field trip (FOX 5 Atlanta).
"The fact that a teacher didn't stand up for my daughter's civil rights and compared to a piece of metal is so disturbing," said Cleaves.
Cleaves has met with the principal who sent a letter to parents saying in part:, "The lesson had never been part of the Mable House's curriculum for Abney students prior to that day, nor was it described in the field trip materials or mentioned on the Mable House website."
The letter also states that the school contacted Mable House to insist the activity not be part of other field trips.
Still from video that shows students participating in a lesson on "slave auctioning" during a recent field trip to Mable House (FOX 5 Atlanta).
Cleaves says that's a start, but she still wants an apology and training for school staff.
"Paulding County Schools needs inclusion and diversity training going forward to deal with matters like this better," said Cleaves.
Mable House is leased to Cobb County Parks, but a nonprofit runs the interactive field trip program. County officials say hundreds of field trips have taken place there, and they've never had any previous complaints.