A teacher at a high school in New Jersey was stopped for pay to make comments related to obscene words to students about George Floyd.
A recording aired on WNBC-TV shows Howard Zlotkin, a science teacher at Dickinson, talking about Floyd and Black Lives Matter during what was supposed to be a discussion of climate change in the Zoom class for landscape and design.
Floyd, 46, was killed during an arrest for a counterfeit bill in Minneapolis last May. 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 and others’ remarks made the next day also included obscene words aimed at a student and a vulgar gesture, WNBC reported. The student said Zlotkin was angry when she and three other students challenged him, and the four were told to write an essay on “Why Black Life Should Matter,” a task not given to other students.
Superintendent Franklin Walker told NJ.com that the language used was “unacceptable.” He said the area was being investigated and police had been notified, “because some of them may be on the same level as a hate crime”.
“The comments that were made were very biased and he shouldn’t have that kind of discussion with the kids – it has nothing to do with the subject in the classroom,” Walker said. “The position in which he placed the children was certainly very uncomfortable doing and saying such things.”
The teachers’ union declined to comment until it received more information, union president Ron Greco said.
Jersey City public schools said the school took statements from students “before taking disciplinary action” until a second-day class video appeared.
“The teacher will not have access to students or school as we continue,” said spokeswoman Norma Fernandez. “We are horrified by the allegations, the obscene words, the disrespect and the treatment of the students.”
Zlotkin, who has been at the school for 20 years, was also fired by an additional professor at Hudson County Municipal College, NJ.com reported.
A spokeswoman said “offensive and degrading language” violated the college’s anti-bullying and professional conduct policies.
Zlotkin declined to comment to the New York Times, citing the investigation, but called the footage “a very well-mounted sound bite” and said he “would like to one day give my side to the story.”