Nashville student-teacher dismissed after lesson on slavery

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNN) -- A student-teacher at a Nashville elementary school was dismissed after a Black History month lesson on slavery that prompted students to complete the phrase, "To keep their slaves subservient, plantation owners should..."

The student-teacher, who according to Metro Nashville Public Schools was African American, was giving a lesson to fourth-graders on a purported 1712 speech, in which a man identified as Willie Lynch explained to a crowd of Virginia colonists how to control enslaved people.

Scholars and historians have raised serious doubts about the speech's authenticity, with some suggesting a person with that name did not even exist during that time frame.

The student-teacher asked the Waverly Belmont Elementary School class to read the text which in part read, "I have a fool-proof method for controlling your Black slaves... that, if installed correctly, it will control the slaves for at least 300 years," words reportedly said by Lynch.

The student-teacher was removed after the assignment was taught in two classes, school district spokesman Sean Braisted said. Braisted said she will not be returning to the school.

In a statement, Braisted said the material was "not age-appropriate or within the scope of sequence for the 4th-grade class."

"(Metro Nashville Public Schools) regrets if any students or parents were caused pain as a result of this incident. District leaders have been working with school administrators and parents to address concerns for the students involved."

The supervising teacher was also placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the school district, Braisted said. CNN has reached out to the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association teachers union for comment.

One African American mother, whose son was in one of the lessons, told CNN affiliate WSMV that students were given a choice about whether to read the text after the teacher told them it was graphic. Kristen Lockert's son chose to read it.

"Just knowing that he had to be subjected to reading something that could make him feel like he was less of who he is," Lockert told WSMV. "So, what kind of lessons are we going to now put in place at Waverly Belmont to counteract what they have done?"

Vanderbilt University, where the student-teacher attends classes, said in a statement the experience in classrooms is "an invaluable one."

"This was an unfortunate situation for all involved," the statement said. "We will continue to work with Metro Nashville Public Schools to ensure that students, student-teachers, and mentors benefit from engaging in the classroom and working together."

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