Michigan teacher furloughed after including Obama photo in primate assignment

A teacher has been criticized for handing out an assignment that asked students to identify primates in a grid of photos including one of former President Barack Obama.

The teacher, who has not been named, was recently furloughed by Roeper School in Birmingham, Michigan, WDIV reported.

Students in a biology class would have been given a sheet of paper for homework titled, “Which of the following are primates?”

The former US president was photographed alongside monkeys and other animals, including a peacock, and according to the report he was expected to tick off which of the pictures showed a ‘primate’.

Classes at the school were canceled on Thursday due to alleged threats made online following the revelations. The police were also posted outside the building.

“When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it,” the school’s diversity director, Carolyn Lett, told WDIV. “I try to figure it out myself. But immediately I had a reaction. like, ‘this is so wrong I can’t understand it.’

The school, which investigated the incident, said the assignment was taken from the website of a “highly regarded university,” Fox 2 reported. No further details were given about the work.

(Duke University Press)

“On behalf of the Roeper School administration, we want to acknowledge the troubling racial infraction contained in an assignment with a high school class last week,” the school said in a statement Friday.

“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 added that although the teacher in question had “taken responsibility and admitted the mistake of not properly checking the resource”, the action warranted the individual being furloughed.

The Independent approached the school for comment.

Jack C. Nugent