A white middle school teacher in Rochester, New York has filed a lawsuit denying he ever made his mostly Black students pick cotton during an assignment. As previously reported by REVOLT, the instructor allegedly told his seventh-grade social studies class to complete the dehumanizing act on April 26.
Although his identity was originally withheld, yesterday (June 22), Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ 2 revealed the teacher’s name is Patrick Rausch. The lawsuit was filed on Friday (June 17). Documents show Rausch used a bag of unprocessed cotton he’d brought to show his students how hard it was to pick the seeds from it by hand. According to his lawsuit, no members of the class were required to touch the cotton. Rausch said the exercise was voluntary.
“He made a mockery out of slavery,” a parent wrote on Facebook when the incident initially happened. “I don’t have a problem with you teaching our kids about slavery and what our ancestors went through and how they had to pick cotton. Our teachers back in the day told us that, but they don’t bring in cotton and make you pick cotton seeds out of cotton.”
At the time, parents and students said Rausch allowed the exercise to be optional for his white students. He was also accused of making his Black students wear handcuffs resembling shackles. His lawsuit states the parents began a smear campaign of false allegations against him on social media. He also noted he never instructed students to call him “Massah.”
The lawsuit names not-for-profit social justice group Save Rochester Inc., its executive director Michael Johnson and two parents. Johnson released a statement saying, “While I have been advised to issue no comment at this time, my heart certainly aches for the children impacted by what they perceive to be flagrant acts of racism and hateful manipulation.”
Following the accusations, Rausch was placed on administrative leave.