A high school teacher in Arlington, Va., was relieved of his duties after asking students to describe the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police in late May, as part of a chemistry assignment.
The unidentified teacher at H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program gave students a fill-in-the blank question describing Floyd’s death, according to The Washington Post.
“George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his ____ George’s neck,” the question read, according to ARLnow.com, who first reported the content of the question.
The correct answer was “neon,” according to the outlet.
H-B Woodlawn is conducting school lessons virtually amid the pandemic. After the question was posted, a screenshot made its way around the community, prompting parents to call the school, according to ARLnow.com.
In a statement posted online Thursday, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán said the teacher was “relieved of classroom duties while an investigation related to this matter takes place.”
Durán also condemned the question as a “blatant disregard for African American lives.” The Post points out that H-B Woodlawn is nearly 58 percent white, and only 4.4 percent of students are Black.
“This act violates the core values of the school system and reinforces the importance of the work we have been doing, and must continue to do, to employ culturally responsive teaching practices and to combat systemic racism,” Durán said. “I want to assure everyone that this situation will be handled in accordance with our policies, and all staff are held to the highest standards of professional behavior."
Floyd was killed on May 25 after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death ignited a summer of nationwide protests decrying police brutality and systemic racism.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill dismissed third-degree murder charges against Chauvin last month, but he still faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Earlier this month, Cahill ruled that the four former Minneapolis officers involved would stand trial together. The jury trial is set to begin March 8.