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CEO of a Colorado Springs charter school apologizes for assignment focused on a racial slur

Part of a letter written by the CEO of James Irwin Charter Schools following an assignment...
Part of a letter written by the CEO of James Irwin Charter Schools following an assignment focused on a racial slur.(Rob Daugherty)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:09 PM MDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 8:11 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The CEO of a Colorado Springs charter school is apologizing for an assignment given to students that was titled “N-Word Journal,” according to a document provided to 11 News by members of the community.

11 News obtained a copy of the assignment in question from several viewers after a social media post started circulating earlier this week tied to a high school class at James Irwin Charter Schools. The viewers found the assignment offensive as it centered around a racial slur. The document goes on to read in part, “The ‘n-word’ is problematic because it is a part of our past history that doesn’t reconcile with our present ... we will not say this word in class out of respect for the many people who find it offensive. Please treat this topic with respect, open-mindedness, and a serious attitude. It is not something to giggle over with your friends. Our approach will be ACADEMIC AND RESPECTFUL.”

Some of the questioned posed in the assignment provided to 11 News include:

“How does the n-word (in each form) make you feel?”

“Is it hard to talk about the n-word in an academic setting? Why or why not?”

“Why is this topic relevant to the novel, ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God?’ Has its use in the novel bothered you? Why or Why not?”

Soon after 11 News reached out to the principal about the concern over the assignment, the CEO responded promptly that he had prepared a letter for his staff and families. You can read the full letter sent to staff and families at the bottom of this article.

Part of the letter reads, “The assignment is not something that James Irwin Charter Schools espouses as educational, and it was removed immediately once I was made aware of its posting.”

The letter goes on to state that the teacher is “truly sorry” for the deep hurt the assignment caused students and families. The teacher will now have future assignments vetted by administration before posting the work. The CEO for James Irwin Charter Schools, Rob Daugherty, added there will be an event in the high school gymnasium to directly address these concerns and racial tensions as a whole.

“On behalf of James Irwin Charter Schools, I apologize for any hurt or pain this terrible event has cause, and I will personally ensure that in the future, our schools and teachers will have the necessary tools available to better navigate sensitive issues,” Daugherty wrote.

11 News chose to cover this story because of the concern from members of the community and students at the school, along with the action taken by the CEO on the matter.

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