Michigan teacher placed on leave after including photo of Obama in assignment about primates

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A teacher has come under fire for handing out an assignment that asked students to identify primates in a grid of photos that included one of former president Barack Obama.

The teacher, who has not been named, was recently placed on leave by The Roeper School in Birmingham, Michigan, WDIV reported.

Students in a biology class were allegedly handed a piece of paper for the assignment titled: “Which of the following are primates?”

The former US president was pictured alongside monkeys and other animals including a peacock, and according to the report were expected to tick which of the images showed a “primate”.

Lessons at the school were cancelled on Thursday because of threats reportedly made online following the revelations. Police were also stationed outside the building.

“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it,” the school’s diversity director, Carolyn Lett, told WDIV. “ I’m trying to understand this myself. But right away I had a reaction. like, ‘it’s so wrong I can’t understand it.’”

The school, who have been investigating the incident, said the assignment had been taken from a “highly regarded university’s” website, Fox 2 reported. No further details were issued about the work.

The assignment worksheet (Duke University Press)
The assignment worksheet (Duke University Press)

“On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offence contained in an assignment with an upper school class last week,” the school said in a statement on Friday.

“The choice to use this piece of curriculum was completely inconsistent with our School’s philosophy and mission and we sincerely apologise for its use and the harm it has caused.”

The school added that although the teacher in question had “taken responsibility and admits the mistake of not properly vetting the resource”, the action warranted the individual being placed on leave.

The Independent has approached the school for comment.