Michigan school that passed 'anti-racism resolution' suspends teacher for worksheet comparing Obama to monkeys

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A prestigious Detroit-area school that passed an “anti-racism resolution” in 2021 suspended one of its teachers after she passed out a worksheet to students comparing former President Barack Obama to monkeys.

The paperwork, which was reportedly given to approximately 30 students at The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, asked students to identify primates from a gallery of photos labeled apes, monkeys and lemurs. Included in the gallery was a picture of the former president.

After news of the worksheet circulated, the school canceled classes on Thursday because of alleged threats. They also offered counseling and said in a statement: “On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership, we want to acknowledge the disturbing racial offense contained in an assignment with an upper school class last week.”

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

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School work assigned to students at The Roeper School in Michigan comparing former President Barack Obama to monkeys.

School work assigned to students at The Roeper School in Michigan comparing former President Barack Obama to monkeys.
(Fox 2 Detroit)

“While the teacher has taken responsibility and admits the mistake of not properly vetting the resource, we know that is not enough and she has been placed on administrative leave until further notice.”

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on Oct. 26, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan.

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally to support Michigan democratic candidates at Detroit Cass Tech High School on Oct. 26, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan.
(Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Carolyn Lett, who serves as the director of diversity at the $30,000-per-year school, told local news outlet WJBK-TV that the worksheet made her feel “disgusted” and that “she couldn’t believe it.”

“When I first saw it, I’m trying to make sense of it myself,” she said.

Lett said the teacher claimed she was “horrified” by the worksheet and did not notice Obama’s portrait among the animals.

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“It is made all the more challenging for us because it is the antithesis of who we are as a school,” said Clay Thomas, chair of Roeper Board of Trustees, according to local Fox 2.

In May 2021, the school board of trustees adopted an anti-racism resolution that claimed “ongoing social justice issues across our country, including the killings of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), have had a profound impact on our past and present students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families at The Roeper School.”

The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

The Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
(Credit: Google Maps)

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One of the resolutions adopted by the board at the time is “that we believe Black lives matter,” and that “we condemn all forms of bullying, microaggressions, hate speech, and violence.”

The Roeper School is the oldest school for gifted kids in the United States, according to its website, and prides itself on educating students from diverse ethnicities, races and socio-economic backgrounds. It was founded by George and Annemarie Roeper, who moved to Michigan in 1941 as religious refugees from Nazi Germany.

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