A Saugerties High School English teacher is under investigation after assigning her ninth-grade class an assignment claiming that George Floyd died from a heart attack and drug overdose instead of excessive force at the hands of Derek Chauvin.
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Hope Antonelli, a 28-year teaching veteran in the Saugerties school district, according to her now-private Instagram profile, had students “create a bold topic/thematic sentence” and, as an example, claimed that George Floyd “did not die because (Derek) Chauvin’s knee was on his neck.”
The educator assigned the bogus rhetoric as a writing prompt.
Antonelli’s assignment also debated the objectiveness of juror Brandon Mitchell. It claimed that Mitchell was not objective because he may have had a perspective about policing impacted by his race and possible support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“New evidence has surfaced that he could not have been forthcoming in his statements,” the assignment stated. “Should the Derek Chauvin case be retried because of Brandon Mitchell. Why or Why Not?”
Antonelli’s example attempted to refute the already decided guilty verdict of the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin by using information that was also proven to be inaccurate by the court of law.
Parents of Antonelli’s students were outraged by the clear bias and racism in the assignment and called for a review of her teaching practices. As of May 14, Antonelli has been “reassigned” within the district, pending her investigation.
After the assignment began to circulate, many parents and community members called for Antonelli to be fired for her attempt to influence her class with biased and bigoted information. The district superintendent did admit that at least one student came to him with concerns of bias in the assignment.
Given her position as a tenured and unionized teacher, Antonelli is waiting to undergo due process and trial that won’t be questioned or refuted after being decided. The irony is not lost on us.