Michigan's Roeper School assignment compares Barack Obama to monkeys, teacher suspended

'On behalf of Roeper School's leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offence contained in an assignment,' the school stated.


                            Michigan's Roeper School assignment compares Barack Obama to monkeys, teacher suspended
Roeper School suspends teacher for distributing worksheet comparing Barack Obama to monkeys (Credits: Twitter/The Roeper School and Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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A prominent Michigan school is embroiled in a controversy after it distributed an assignment to students that compared former President Barack Obama to monkeys. The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, a prominent Detroit-area school, suspended one of its teachers after she handed out the worksheet to students containing the 'disgusting' comparison to Obama. Notably, the school approved an "anti-racism resolution" in 2021. Students at the school were apparently given the papers, which required them to identify primates from a gallery of photographs labelled apes, monkeys, and lemurs. A photograph of the former president was included in the gallery.

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The school postponed lessons on Thursday, May 19, due to claimed threats after word of the assignment spread. "On behalf of Roeper School's leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offence contained in an assignment with an upper school class last week," the school stated and also offered counseling.

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The school added, "The choice to use this piece of curriculum was completely inconsistent with our School's philosophy and mission and we sincerely apologize for its use and the harm it has caused. While the teacher has taken 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."

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Carolyn Lett, the $30,000-per-year school's director of diversity, told local television station WJBK-TV that the worksheet made her "disgusted" and that "she couldn't believe it." Lett explained, "When I first saw it, I'm trying to make sense of it myself." The teacher, who was not identified, claimed she was "horrified" by the worksheet and had missed Obama's photo amid the animals, according to Lett.

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According to local Fox 2, Clay Thomas, head of the Roeper Board of Trustees, said, "It is made all the more challenging for us because it is the antithesis of who we are as a school."

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"Ongoing social justice issues across our country, including the killings of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have had a profound impact on our past and present students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families at The Roeper School," the school board of trustees declared in May 2021. "We believe Black lives matter," according to one of the board's resolutions at the time, and "we condemn all forms of bullying, microaggressions, hate speech, and violence."

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According to its website, the Roeper School is the oldest school for brilliant children in the United States, and it takes pleasure in educating students of various cultures, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It was constituted by George and Annemarie Roeper, religious refugees from Nazi Germany who arrived in Michigan in 1941.

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