Massachusetts Montessori School Shut Down After Black Face Activity In Classroom

Not the school mentioned in the story (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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A preschool in Massachusetts apologized Sunday and announced it would shut down after students wore black face masks during a classroom activity.

ICKids, a Newton, Massachusetts, Montessorri school, posted a statement to its public Facebook page apologizing for a “black mask/black face instance” that happened in the Toddler’s classroom Feb. 8, The Associated Press reported.

“We apologize to every and anyone this might have offended,” the ICKids management said the statement, noting that “research for toddler curriculum was not executed or completed in the manner that it should have been.”

The teacher planned an activity to celebrate Black History Month, in which students created masks by drawing black faces on paper plates and wore them in the classroom, The AP reported. (RELATED: School District Paid Nearly $170,000 In Taxpayer Funds To Implement Mandatory Ethnic Studies Course)

“She hurt the students. She degraded them. She hurt the Black community,” Bridget Ray-Canada, a Newton resident and founding member of the Newton Coalition of Black residents, told CBS Boston. “For people to claim ignorance, I think it’s unacceptable in 2022.”

The teacher apologized to the parent who “pointed out that the black mask/blackface is offensive,” and the activity was “removed from the classroom,” the school said.

“This is unacceptable, and don’t really understand the concept of this project,” said Nadirah Pierce, the parent of a child who attends the school, according to The AP. “The apology received was empty, and then to go onto Facebook and see that apology was disheartening.”

The school said the teacher has since been fired for the incident. ICKids also announced it would be closing due to safety concerns over planned protests, according to its statement.

“Considering of protests happening at the center that will put the children at risk, in the need, we are closing the ICKids daycare at this time,” ICKids management’s said. “In the event that we reopen our doors, all staff will be trained in Diversity and creating curriculum for the birth to 5-year-old age group.”

The school’s statement also promised to aim to hire “more diverse staff with strong child care background knowledge and experience.”