George Floyd: New Jersey teacher suspended over rant to pupils | George Floyd | #teacher | #children | #kids

A New Jersey high school teacher was suspended with pay for making profanity-laced comments to students about George Floyd.

A recording aired by WNBC-TV showed Howard Zlotkin, a Dickinson high school science teacher, talking about Floyd and Black Lives Matter during what was supposed to be a climate change discussion in a Zoom class on landscape and design.

In the footage, Zlotkin, who is white, is heard to say people are “whining and crying about Black Lives Matter”. He then refers to Floyd with a profanity as a “criminal” who “got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply”. Another profanity is heard as he says Floyd is being treated as a “hero”.

Floyd, 46, was killed during an arrest over a counterfeit banknote in Minneapolis in May last year. Former police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was found guilty of murder last month.

The video of Slotkin’s remarks and another taken the next day also included a profanity directed at a student and a vulgar gesture, WNBC reported. The student said Zlotkin grew irate when she and three other students challenged him, and the four were told to write an essay on “Why Black lives should matter” – an assignment not given to other students.

Superintendent Franklin Walker told the language used was “unacceptable”. He said the district was investigating and police had been notified “because some of it could be at the same level as a hate crime”.

“The comments that were made were very biased and he shouldn’t be having that kind of discussion with the children – that had nothing to do with the subject matter in the classroom,” Walker said. “The position that he put the children in certainly was a very uncomfortable one by doing and saying those kinds of things.”

The teachers’ union declined comment until it had more information, the union president, Ron Greco, said.

Jersey City Public Schools said the school had been taking statements from students “before proceeding with disciplinary actions”, until video from the second day’s class surfaced.

“The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed,” spokesperson Norma Fernandez said. “We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect and treatment of students.”

Zlotkin, who has been at the school for 20 years, was also suspended with pay from his adjunct professor position at Hudson County Community College, reported.

A spokeswoman said “offensive and derogatory language” violates the college’s anti-harassment policy and professional conduct policy.

Zlotkin declined comment to the New York Times, citing the investigation, but called the footage a “very well-edited soundbite” and said he would “love one day to give my side of the story”.

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