A Michigan school teacher was placed on leave after handing out an assignment that showed former President Barack Obama photographed next to animals.
Families and students were upset over the worksheet handed out to high schoolers in a biology class at The Roeper School in Oakland County. The school describes itself as “the oldest preschool through grade 12 school for the gifted in the nation,” TheGrio reported.
The assignment expected students to select primates from the pictures provided in the worksheet.
“Which of the following are primates?” the assignment asked and included a selection of animals pictured alongside the former president.
The school reportedly said that they were aware of the assignment and are investigating the circumstances around it. Parents were also sent a letter that claimed the worksheet from a university website.
As the school tried to understand the teacher’s motive behind the worksheet, students and their families were upset regardless of the intent of the assignment.
No classes were held at the school Thursday. Cops were also present outside the school in light of threats received online.
Carolyn Lett, the school’s Director of Diversity, expressed shock over the assignment and said she spoke with the teacher.
“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it,” Lett told ClickOnDetroit. “Is it something that the teacher did? You know, purposefully put this picture in along with the animals and the apes and the primates. I’m trying to understand this myself. But right away I had a reaction. like, ‘it’s so wrong I can’t understand it.’”
Lett said the offensive nature of the assignment left students feeling hurt.
The teacher “had her biology hat on but didn’t realize the sensitivity and awareness she should have had culturally,” Lett said, adding that she will gather more information and speak to families.
Social media users were also shocked by the school assignment.
“There’s not noticing a typo, and then there’s not noticing Barack Obama’s face next to a bunch of monkeys,” said one user, according to TheGrio. “The teacher knew.”
Another wrote: “I can’t imagine the teacher didn’t know exactly what they were doing. And if they didn’t, I’m curious to know what the vetting process is at a school with a $30k a year tuition. Someone is at fault here.”
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