School apologizes for image of black girl in 17th century toddler leash

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — An image from a Bridgewater classroom showing a young girl fitted with tethering straps held by others has sparked outrage among parents and others on social media.

The image was shared several times with Boston 25 News and prompted school officials to sit down with local police, Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District officials and the parents involved Thursday morning.

Superintendent Derek J. Swenson said in the letter the director of education for Plimoth Plantation was delivering a lesson on 17th century attire and was demonstrating “tethering straps” commonly used at the time to help toddlers learn how to walk.

The photo shows a white woman posing with two white children and one black child who is crouched on the floor. The girl on the floor is connected to the tethering straps.

“We realized without this context added to the photo that was shared by the classroom teacher it could be perceived differently,” Swenson said. "It was never the intent of the lesson to demean or degrade one person or group.”