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Calls For Area Teacher To Be Fired Over Allegedly Racist George Floyd Assignment Grow

Saugerties High School
Saugerties High School Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

Calls for a Hudson Valley teacher to either be fired or resign are growing over what many are calling a racist assignment.

The controversy began last week in Ulster County when Saugerties High School English teacher Hope Antonelli, gave her ninth-grade English class a writing assignment stating that “George Floyd did not die because (Derek) Chauvin’s knee was on his neck. He died from a heart attack and drug overdose.”

Chauvin, the  former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday, April 20 for killing Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes, as Floyd pleaded that he "could not breathe."

The assignment went to say that a juror at the trial of Chauvin, Brandon Mitchell, who is Black and attended the anniversary of the March on Washington last year, “could have not been forthcoming” during jury selection. 

A student complained and the assignment was revised, according to a letter to parents from district Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt.

On Wednesday, May 12, Reinhardt said the district is investigating the assignment and that the teacher had been reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation.

"The District takes allegations of this nature very seriously and wishes to emphasize that there are existing procedures under its Dignity for All Students Act (“DASA”) policy to make complaints or to bring to the District’s attention, any issues of this nature," he added.

In addition to school officials, at least one Saugerties Town Board member is demanding that Antonelli be fired and there have been protests at the school and a flurry of online discussion by parents.

The town board member did respond to a request for comment.

Reinhardt did not say when he expects the investigation to be complete. 

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