SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Some parents and residents in Saugerties are voicing their concerns after an English assignment, that’s since been canceled, made controversial remarks about George Floyd.
Students were asked to write an assignment arguing whether convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should have a retrial, based on new information that’s come out about one of the juror’s, but at least one student expressed concerns over the way the assignment was presented.
Before the assignment directions, the teacher, who the district will not name, but confirms is tenured, wrote the following, “George Floyd did not die because Chauvin’s knee was on his neck. He died from a heart attack and drug overdose. However because Chauvin used excessive force and failed to render aid, he was convicted on all three counts by a jury of his peers.”
“It was just completely inappropriate to have children read a paragraph like that, revising history. It seemed very biased, and quite frankly disgusting. There is no question as to whether or not George Floyd was murdered,” said Daisy Bolle, a parent of a Saugerties High School student.
After the student came forward with concerns, the district met with them, as well as their parents, to discuss the next steps.
“As soon as it was brought to the attention of an administrator, they met with the teacher, once the teacher realized a student was made to feel uncomfortable, the assignment was revised that same day. Now the assignment’s been removed,” Saugerties Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt said.
Despite this, some in the community say the damage has already been done.
“History is perspective, it’s not just facts. It says a lot to the one perspective that’s probably given in that class, I think a lot of damage was done and that it was just highlighted finally,” Saugerties resident Robin Alvarado said.
Reinhardt says the district is taking steps to make sure similar incidents don’t happen again in the future.
“Our goal going forward is how do we look at our curriculum, how do we look at our decision making, making sure our teachers see all of our work and assignments through the lens of our students, are we being culturally responsive, are we checking our bias, are we making sure we’re being sensitive to our students?” he explained.