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A prestigious Detroit-area school that passed an “anti-racism resolution” in 2021 has suspended one of its teachers after she distributed a worksheet to students comparing former President Barack Obama to monkeys.
The papers, which were reportedly given to about 30 students at Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, asked students to identify primates from a gallery of photos labeled apes, apes and lemurs. Included in the gallery was a photo of the former president.
After news of the worksheet circulated, the school canceled classes on Thursday due to alleged threats. They also offered advice and said in a statement, “On behalf of the leadership of Roeper School, we want to acknowledge the troubling racial infraction contained in an assignment with a high school class last week.”
“The choice to use this program was completely inconsistent with the philosophy and mission of our school and we sincerely apologize for its use and the harm it has caused,” the school continued.
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“Although the teacher took responsibility and admits the mistake of not properly vetting the resource, we know that is not enough and she has been placed on administrative leave until further notice.”
Carolyn Lett, director of diversity at the $30,000-a-year school, said local media WJBK-TV that the worksheet made her feel “disgusted” and that “she couldn’t believe it”.
“When I first saw it, I try to make sense of it myself,” she said.
Lett said the teacher claimed she was “horrified” by the worksheet and didn’t notice Obama’s portrait among the animals.
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“It’s made that much harder for us because it’s the antithesis of who we are as a school,” said Clay Thomas, chairman of Roeper’s board, according to local reports. Fox 2.
In May 2021, the school board adopted a resolution against racism which asserted that “ongoing social justice issues in our country, including the killings of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have had a profound impact on our students, faculty, staff, administrators, administrators and families past and present at The Roeper School.”
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One of the resolutions passed by the council at the time is “that we believe black lives matter” and that “we condemn all forms of bullying, microaggressions, hate speech and violence” .
The Roeper School is the oldest school for gifted children in the United States, according to its website, and prides itself on educating students from diverse ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It was founded by George and Annemarie Roeper, who moved to Michigan in 1941 as religious refugees from Nazi Germany.