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School assignment shows Obama next to primates

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 11:35 AM CDT
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OAKLAND CO., Mich. (WDIV) - A teacher in Michigan is on leave after administrators said she gave out an assignment showing former President Barack Obama alongside several primates.

The assignment asked, “Which of the following are primates?”

No matter what the intent was, many parents and students were offended.

“When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it,” said Carolyn Lett, director of diversity for The Roeper School.

Lett said she saw the evolution lesson given to students and had questions.

“Is this something the teacher did, you know purposely, put this picture in along with the animals and the apes?” she said. “I’m trying to understand this myself. Right away I had the reaction, like it’s so wrong I can’t understand it.”

Lett said this is what the teacher told her and the Roeper administrators: “She had her biology hat on but didn’t realize the awareness that she should have had culturally.”

The lesson included more than one photo of the former president. It’s from a Duke University website.

Lett says the offensive images have hurt Roeper students, and she asked the teacher what she is going to do about it.

“Her intentions were a certain way, but the impact - now she realized - it had a very negative effect on her students,” Lett said. “(The teacher said) ‘I need to have a conversation with my students.’ I said, ‘What will that conversation look like? Own the mistake that you’ve done.’”

The school did not hold classes Thursday. Police were stationed outside due to threats made online.

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