All-inclusive can still be inappropriate, minority alumni council says of Mooney incident

Controversial classroom activity was part of lesson on 19th-century slavery

By Amanda Tonoli


Cardinal Mooney High School’s Minority Alumni Council said despite an all-inclusive-environment defense to a controversial classroom activity, the activity was “inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Students in an African-American history class engaged in a project Thursday during which they picked seeds out of cotton as part of a lesson on 19th-century slavery in the United States while “period music” played.

Principal Mark Vollmer on Friday issued a statement and released the letter he sent home to an offended family that said repeatedly that all students participated, not just black students.

The letter went on to say the class is “part of the state-approved United States History curriculum” and “is structured as an impressive and kinesthetic experience” to “enhance [students’] understanding” with “supplemental materials.”

The MAC wrote back on Monday saying that although the coursework was based on Ohio Learning Standards, the group “maintains that the manner in which it was executed was unfortunately inappropriate and unnecessary.”

The MAC’s letter continued that the group would offer “immediate support for diversity and sensitivity training for Cardinal Mooney faculty and staff, a town-hall meeting for current Mooney students and parents – to ensure all voices be heard and unique concerns can be openly addressed” – and “appropriate and critical cultural review” of curriculum pieces presented for the African American Studies class at Mooney “to better reflect the true values CMHS advocates for ‘all’ students.”

Cardinal Mooney will no longer offer the activity as part of any curriculum, Vollmer said in the letter.

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