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Citing Buffalo mass shooting, state education department cancels U.S. history Regents exam

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Max Schulte
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WXXI News
Aaron Salter, Pearl Young, and Heyward Patterson were among the 10 people killed in a racist attack at a Tops grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood on May 14.

Students in eighth through 12th grades across New York state will not be taking a Regents exam on U.S. history this year.

The state education department canceled the exam in response to the racist mass shooting in Buffalo on May 14 in a predominantly Black neighborhood which left 10 people dead, all of whom were Black. Three other people were wounded.

The alleged shooter, an 18-year-old white man, had reportedly written a hate-filled 180-page document that referenced a conspiracy theory that white people are being replaced by people of other races and ethnicities. Video he allegedly took of his assault showed the N-word written on the barrel of the rifle he used.

Commissioner Betty Rosa announced the abrupt change to the Regents examination schedule in a memo on Tuesday.

“In the wake of the heinous mass shooting in Buffalo, the Department is taking numerous steps to explore potential areas of support for students and schools across the state,” Rosa said in the memo.

Those steps, she said, included reviewing all Regents exam material. In that process, the exam on United States History and Government was flagged.

“The tragedy in Buffalo has created an unexpected and unintended context for the planned assessment,” Rosa wrote.

She said there is content in the printed tests that could compound student trauma.

A spokesperson with the department did not specify further what the content in question is. The test was developed more than two years ago by state-certified social studies teachers.

Rosa said in her memo that there would not be enough time to produce a new test before the deadline.

However, she said the department would request the Board of Regents grant a graduation exemption for students who were expected to take the exam.

“The Department is committed to supporting our students, schools, and communities in the wake of the tragedy in Buffalo. We will work together to ensure that goodness and compassion will always triumph over ignorance and hatred.”