‘It Infuriates Me': Family Outraged Over Underground Railroad Field Trip

A couple says their child was subjected to a racially insensitive exercise on a school field trip and they still can’t believe it happened.

They say they would have never let their daughter go on this trip if they knew she’d be learning about history this way.

Bailey Peterson had been thinking it about for months: her first class trip away from home.

"They made it seem very exciting," she recalled in an interview Wednesday.

In late March, McKLinley Elementary in South Holland, IL took about 70 sixth-graders to Nature’s Classroom Institute for four days.

"It’s a nature resource center, so I thought: birds, bees, trees, maybe a little horseback riding," Dawn Peterson, Bailey's mother, told NBC 5.

But Bailey and her family say the didn't know the trip to Lake Geneva would also include a history lesson on the Underground Railroad.

"The lights went out and everyone was so scared," Bailey remembered. "Some people were screaming and they were telling us to get down."

The simulation included staffers posing as runaway slaves, abolitionists and even bounty hunters.

"I was very confused, I just did what I was suppose to do," Bailey said.

Bailey’s parents and grandmother say they were outraged when she told them what happened.

"To even hear that she was in a situation and terrified ... It infuriates me," her father, Bobby Rogers, said.

Bailey’s parents say they are getting the word out to other parents and telling them to make their voices heard at the next week’s school board meeting.

The district's superintendent did not immediately respond to NBC 5's request for comment.

Bailey’s parents say they met with him and other district officials earlier this week, and were told that the district stands by the exercise.

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