Black parent accuses LA elementary school of traumatizing their daughter with ‘cotton-picking’ project

A black mother sued the Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, in state court last week over an elementary school project she said involved students picking cotton to learn about slavery.

In a lawsuit obtained by NBC News, Rushunda Pitts called the project “culturally insensitive” and said that her daughter suffered extreme emotional distress as a result of the assignment, which Pitts says terrified her daughter.

“She has uncontrollable anxiety attacks,” says Sue, who has also experienced bouts of depression while thinking about the cotton-picking project.

People stand outside the LA Superior Court building.
People stand outside the LA Superior Court building.Google Map

The lawsuit, filed in LA Superior Court, alleges that LAUSD and Laurel Span School, the elementary school Pitts’ daughter was attending, was changed since closing She is humiliated by Laurel Cinematic Arts’ creative tech magnate, her participation in an antebellum project. The suit said the project caused her child to suffer anxiety attacks and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pitts says he first saw his daughter showing signs of distress when she became “very calm and reserved” for a two-week period in September 2017 when the project was underway, according to the suit. About a month later, Pitts noticed that a cotton field had been planted at his daughter’s school while he was dropping it off and brought it to the attention of the associate principal. The associate principal explained that the students in her daughter’s class were reading an autobiography by Frederick Douglass in which Douglas discussed cotton picking, and that the area was pitched for the students to have a “real-life experience” that it was a It was like being a slave. The person says suit.

According to the suit, the associate principal agreed that the project was unsuitable after hearing Pitts’ concerns and offered to remove the cotton field by the end of that week or the following week.

Pitts says she should have been informed about the “cotton-picking” project in advance at trial and that although her daughter didn’t have to pick up any cotton, she was shocked to see other children doing it.

In a statement to NBC Los Angeles in October 2017, a spokesperson for LAUSD said that school administrators immediately removed the cotton plant after becoming aware of Pitts’ concerns.

“We regret that an instructional activity in the garden at Laurel School was deemed culturally insensitive,” the spokesperson said at the time, according to the suit. “Going to the garden where a variety of fruits, vegetables and other plants grow is a school-wide tradition that has been around for years and has never been used as a tool to reenact historical events. Has been.”

A spokesperson for LAUSD said in an email to NBC News Tuesday that the district does not typically comment on pending or ongoing litigation. The former principal and associate principal of Laurel Spahn School at the time of the incident did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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