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Toms River teacher cleared in complaint over fake whipping slavery lesson

Posted: 2:57 PM, Feb 14, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-14 14:57:40-05
School that asked fourth graders to list three good reasons for slavery and three bad ones apologizes

TOMS RIVER, New Jersey — An eighth-grade social studies teacher in New Jersey has been cleared of wrongdoing following a complaint alleging he had students lay on the ground while he pretended to whip them during a lesson on slavery.

Lawrence Cueno, a teacher at Toms River Intermediate School East, could have used better judgment in his lesson plans, but had no ill intent during the alleged incident, a spokesman for the district said.

“The district has concluded its investigation into a complaint alleging that an Intermediate East eighth-grade social studies lesson on slavery was ‘degrading to students,'” district spokesman Michael Kenny said in an emailed statement Friday. “We have determined that it was not teacher Lawrence Cuneo’s intention to offend his students; rather, the purpose of the instruction was that this appalling but nevertheless real facet of our nation’s history more fully resonate with students.”

District officials, curriculum directors, Cueno and other teachers will revisit the lesson delivery to make sure it accounts for the sensitivities of all students, Kenny said.