13 Investigates


Questions swirl after Clark County school hands out Thomas Jefferson slave ownership example

Thomas Jefferson thesis example stirs controversy
Thomas Jefferson thesis example stirs controversy
Thomas Jefferson thesis example stirs controversy
ACLU Nevada
ACLU Nevada
Posted at 10:17 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 02:19:30-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — He is the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States and more than 200 years later his legacy is stirring controversy in Nevada.

Parent Michael Kagan said recently, his 13-year-old daughter, a 7th grader within the Clark County School District, was tasked with a homework assignment in her history class.

The student was given some examples to help craft the essay portion of the assignment.

"I noticed she was having trouble on the essay part and I was reading [the instructions] and it had this model thesis statement that jumped right out at me that said how Thomas Jefferson valued all people even though he owned slaves," said Kagan.


Even though Thomas Jefferson had slaves, he showed that he valued every human being in his words and actions.

"My kids are both African-American and they're adopted from Ethiopia," explained Kagan.

The statement is part of the Nevada History Day program and the curriculum is handed out to students all over Nevada.

The Clark County School District is listed as a partner and sponsor agency.

"It raises a lot of questions, what is the vetting process to determine what curriculum goes to students in Nevada, who is reviewing it, who is making the decisions?" said Lauren Kaufman, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

The ACLU is not alone in their questions or concerns after Michael tweeted at the district for answers.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford tweeted the example is "wholly inappropriate" and further contributes "to the continued dehumanization of black Americans."

"I'm glad, I think it's a good sign that the school district is taking off their logo from that program until it is determined how material like that ended up on the website," said Kagan.

A school district spokesperson released the following statement regarding the situation:

Nevada History Day is a program across Nevada offered to all students in every District with several participating educational and governmental entities, and the Clark County School District (CCSD) has been a member. The instructional materials are provided through the Nevada History Day’s website. CCSD did not create the referenced instructional material. Staff in our Curriculum and Professional Development Division are reviewing the Nevada History Day program. Staff have also attempted to reach designated contacts from the program to inform them that our CCSD logo cannot be utilized on their website until further notice. Additionally, teachers will receive communication focusing on District policy and regulation regarding instructional materials and teaching related to controversial issues.
Kirsten Searer, Clark County School District

13 Investigates - Send us a tip
Do you have a story idea or tip for 13 Investigates? Fill out the form below.
Are you willing to go on camera?