DOVER — Officials at the Dover School District confirmed Tuesday that a history teacher who allowed 11th-grade students to present a racially insensitive song about the KKK has been placed on paid administrative leave as they investigate the incident.
John Carver teaches Honors American History, Global Studies, Native Americans of North America and Leaders and Leadership. Carver is also the school’s varsity baseball coach, according to his profile on the high school website.
Over the weekend, video of two male students who changed the lyrics of “Jingle Bells” to “KKK, KKK...” as part of a Civil War Reconstruction period assignment surfaced online. It sparked outrage in the Dover community and the story was reported nationally.
Superintendent William Harbron said Tuesday school officials are still looking into how the assignment was created and if it is part of a standard and/or vetted curriculum Carver uses. They are also still trying to find out if Carver reviewed the racially insensitive song before it was presented to the class.
One of the students in the class filmed the presentation without the knowledge or consent of Carver and the presenters, which is against school policy. Harbron said no students have been disciplined so far.
During lunch on Tuesday, students were given the opportunity to speak with leaders from New Hampshire Listens and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
Harbron said the school system has been working on solving issues relating to bias and prejudice since July. School leaders have received training and plans are to talk further with teachers about how these issues might come up in their classrooms.
“I think we have to look very carefully at how we are sensitive to all people’s needs,” Harbron said. “There is, throughout our culture, bias and prejudice and these things can happen in school districts. All of us, to some degree, have some form of prejudice … We all have to be prepared to deal with it.”
Harbron said parents with concerns can reach out to school district staff via email. A meeting is being planned to address what happened and how the community can move forward together.
Carver, who graduated from Dover High School in 1987, has been a social studies teacher at the school for over 20 years. He was celebrated for 150 baseball career wins in May 2016.
Attempts to reach Carver were not successful.