Texas teacher live-streams Derek Chauvin trial, parents furious for making students watch George Floyd death
A teacher in Cedar Hill High School decided to use Derek Chauvin's case, which included graphic videos and images as prosecutors contend the cause of George Floyd's death, for a class assignment and parents were incensed at the decision
CEDAR HILL, TEXAS: Parents were outraged after a high school teacher in Texas decided to use Derek Chauvin's trial to carry out an assignment. The teacher live-streamed the trial and had the students serve as a mock jury. As a result, Cedar Hill Independent School District (CHISD) officials in suburban Dallas heard an earful from parents.
The trial included graphic videos and images as prosecutors contend the cause of George Floyd's death. Parents said that it was "unfathomable", that the students would be asked to do an assignment that would use one of the country's high-profile cases. The parents were caught off guard because their consent was not asked.
The students were apparently told to follow the same instructions that the real jury was asked to follow by the judge while trying Derek Chauvin. According to ABC Dallas affiliate station WFAA, one of the parents who wrote a letter to the school said, "It is unfathomable to me that you felt it appropriate to force my child to watch George Floyd's murder on television in your classroom, and then move on with his day as if nothing had happened."
The teacher's identity was not revealed but it was also reported that the teacher responded to all the letters and questions from teachers and parents with an outline of the assignment project stating that the students would be "acting as actual jurors in the trial." The teacher further wrote, "Therefore, every day, your child will be attentive to the actual trial, listening and paying attention to the evidence of both sides, defense and prosecution, during the trial."
The teacher had reportedly planned on allowing the students to watch the trial for 45 minutes every day. The trial saw Chauvin -- a former Minneapolis police officer -- plead not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. The trial began last week and since then, the prosecutors have shown the jury footage from bystanders, surveillance, and police bodycams -- all of which showed Chauvin kneeling on the back of Floyd's neck and two other officers holding down the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man.
A group of parents who had written the letter to the school objected to the assignment. They said, "Yet, you left students to handle their own emotions and mental health as they left your class, without proper professional support." On Friday, school district officials issued a statement that the project has been called off. In a statement, the school district said, "CHISD is aware of an assignment conducted by a Cedar Hill High School teacher involving the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial. The assignment was not approved by campus or district administrators."
They also added, "The matter has been addressed with the teacher, and the assignment was removed." In a separate letter, the principal of Cedar High School, Jason Miller, said, "I don't feel that viewing and discussing this case in school is age-appropriate for scholars."
The trial which is being televised nationally saw Chauvin's defense attorneys claim that the cause of Floyd's death was a combination of things including drugs and heart disease. ABC also quoted Dr BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, a clinical psychologist and executive director of the African American Child Wellness Institute, saying that rewatching the video during the trial might result in vicarious or secondary trauma.
Garrett-Akinsanya said, "Symptoms of vicarious or secondary trauma include, but may not be limited to, difficulty managing emotions, feeling emotionally numb or shut down, experiencing fatigue, sleep disturbances, flashbacks or intrusive memories, physical problems or complaints, such as aches, pains and decreased resistance to illness."