• The kids were made to paint black faces on paper plates and hold them up to their own faces
  • The teacher who conducted the activity was fired from the preschool
  • The school issued an apology for the incident 

A Massachusetts Montessori preschool has shut down after making toddlers wear black masks for a Black History Month activity. The teacher responsible for the activity was fired, the school management said.

The incident took place at IC Kids in Newton where the toddlers were made to paint black faces on paper plates and hold them up to their faces, according to Associated Press. The incident, which was supposedly a way to celebrate Black History Month, was reported after a parent found out about the classroom activity that took place last week.

“To celebrate ‘black history month,’ a teacher in Toddler's classroom at ICKids planned and carried out an activity that involved black mask/black face. One of the parents pointed out that the black mask/blackface is offensive. The teacher apologized to the parent,” read a statement released on Facebook by the preschool’s management team.

One mother, Nadirah Pierce, complained about the incident and pulled her children out of the school.

"This is unacceptable and don't really understand the concept of this project," Pierce told NBC10 Boston.

The preschool was also criticized for a Facebook apology they released right after receiving complaints about the activity. "The apology received was empty and then to go onto Facebook and see that apology was disheartening,” Pierce told the outlet. “I hope this is a lesson to possibly really prepare to do projects on cultures before doing them to avoid a hurtful gesture to a group of people. Even if they weren't trying to offend, they have."

IC Kids addressed the criticized apology in the recent statement released by the management team.

“While wording of Facebook apology was not the best statement, we were trying to send a message to say that research for toddler curriculum was not executed or completed in the manner that it should have been, so we apologize to every and anyone this might have offended,” the statement said.

The preschool released the concerned teacher from employment because they “did not execute curriculum in the manner trained to do so resulting in this negative impact and light of the daycare center.”

The school has shut down over concerns about possible protests that could put the students at risk. The statement said the school would have a more diverse staff and also hold diversity training if they reopen.

Professor Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, who teaches dynamics of racism at Simmons University, spoke to NBC10 Boston about the incident and said, “Having children participate in an activity in which they draw Black faces is shameful.”

"It makes fun of them, they’re not really human, they’re human, but they’re less than human," she added.

Representative image Credit: Pixabay