The students at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch staged a walkout, saying their English teacher was “being persecuted for trying to prepare us for the real world.”
Photos and videos posted online showed students rallying outside the school, with some holding placards with messages of support for the teacher.
The assignment in question came as part of a class discussion of the play “Fences,” about a black man struggling to provide for his family. The play includes several mentions of the N-word, and the school assignment was designed to examine the racism behind the word and the ways people have used it, Nashville’s WTVF-TV reported.
Students were also asked to write a short essay about the word.
The written instructions had included the n-word fully spelled out, according to a copy provided to WTVF.
Some parents found the assignment to be inappropriate for their children, prompting school officials to place the teacher on leave, according to the station.
One student then launched an online petition in support of the teacher, and other supportive students staged a walkout Friday.
The teacher has been with Metro Nashville Public Schools since 2015 and had no prior history of being disciplined, WTVF reported.
The teacher’s administrative leave ended Thursday but the employee will be required to undergo training by the school system’s Diversity and Equity team, the report said.
Click here for more from WTVF-TV of Nashville.