A New Jersey high school teacher was suspended with pay after he was recorded berating black students in a profanity-laced argument on an online video conference about the death of George Floyd.
Science teacher Howard Zlotkin angered some of his Dickinson High School students when he called Floyd a criminal and criticized the black community for lionizing him. He was talking to his class about climate change before the conversation veered onto the subject of Black Lives Matter.
"I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f****** criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn't comply and the bottom line is we make him a f****** hero," Zlotkin said on the recording made by a student.
"You guys emulate people, people that are just f***ing wrong, that are criminals, and you're making them right because they're black or they've got a bad story."
Zlotkin also forcefully rejected the notion of white privilege.
"I come to work, I happen to get paid by my black vice principal who thinks I'm f***ing privileged, too," he said.
"If you think I'm privileged then f*** you, because my daughter thinks I'm privileged and I don't speak to her," Zlotkin added when a student disagreed with him.
The students say he targeted four black female students when assigning them to write an essay titled, "Why black lives matter."
One student's mother immediately contacted school officials and their board of education over the interaction. They later complained to NBC News that nothing seemed to happen with the case until there was a second video recorded of the teacher cursing at another student.
"I don't think you can make a case," Zlotkin said to the 17-year-old student who told him she hadn't written the essay assignment. "You know what, Timmia, don't worry about it, you're full of s*** too!"
A school official tried to explain the discrepancy in a statement released to the media.
"The school was in the process of taking statements from students today before proceeding with disciplinary actions, and then the second video surfaced," said Norma Fernandez of Jersey City Public Schools.
"The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed," she added. "We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect, and treatment of students."
Zlotkin told the Washington Post that he was teaching the students facts.
"I tell the students it's all about the facts, and I was teaching those facts. I am a science teacher," he said. "My little snapshot that was posted to the world was out of this context."
Officials are investigating the incident but they said Zlotkin is tenured and that complicates matters.
"I just hope he doesn't teach at all!" said Margie Nieves, a mother of one of the students.
Here's a local news report about the incident:
NJ Teacher Gives Profane Rant During Zoom Lesson, Calls George Floyd a 'Criminal' | NBC New York www.youtube.com