A high school teacher in Northern Virginia has been relieved of his teaching duties after he cited the death of George Floyd as part of a chemistry assignment.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Arlington teacher asked students to insert the name of a chemical element to complete a sentence regarding how the Black man died in Minneapolis police custody.
“George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his ____ George’s neck,” the question read. The answer was the chemical element “neon.”
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said the question was part of an assignment related to the periodic table. Bellavia said the teacher has since been “relieved of teaching duties pending an investigation."
Superintendent Francisco Durán apologized for the incident in a letter to families and staff. He said the class exercise showed “significant racial insensitivity.”
“The content referenced the killing of George Floyd in an unacceptable and senseless way, which hurt and alarmed our students, staff, families and the community,” the superintendent wrote.
Durán added: “The reference showed extremely poor judgement and a blatant disregard for African American lives."