Attorney General’s Office backs out of interview about mock slave auction at Watertown school

WWNY Attorney General’s Office backs out of interview about mock slave auction at Watertown school

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The state Attorney General's Office backed out of an interview with 7 News because we wanted to ask a specific question about its investigation into a mock slave auction held in a Watertown school.

The Watertown City School District announced an agreement with the AG’s Office earlier this week.

The news prompted the teacher who held the mock slave auction in 2019 to tell us the state never spoke to her during its investigation.

When we asked the AG’s Office if that was true, they had little to say.

The AG’s Office concluded its probe into the mock slave auction, which was held in a fourth grade class at North Elementary School on May 28, 2019, where two African American students were asked to portray slaves, while the other students bid on them.

We have reported the teacher responsible was Patricia Bailey, a veteran educator of more than 30 years. She's now retired.

Bailey claims through her lawyer that she was never contacted by the Attorney General’s Office during the investigation and some of the AG’s information about the incident are inaccurate.

Through a series of emails, we asked the AG’s Office if it had spoken to Bailey as part of the investigation.

It was a question that prompted the AG’s Office to back out of an interview we were in the process of scheduling for 2:30 p.m. Friday.

The only answer the office would give: "The Office of the Attorney General declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation."

But, the AG's letter outlining the agreement does share information on some of the people they spoke with during that investigation, including parents of students who participated in the reenactment.

When asked if the school district spoke with Bailey following the incident, Superintendent Patti LaBarr says she has no further comment, pointing us back to a news release sent out earlier in the week.

Obviously, there’s a question of fairness here. How can the AG conduct an investigation and not talk to the person at the center of the investigation?

We have extended a chance for Bailey or her lawyer to share their side of the story in an interview and we'll update if they agree to do one.

Our offer to interview an official with the AG’s Office is still open too.

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