Gwinnett schools investigate controversial math problems

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.,None - Gwinnett County Schools says it has launched a full 'human resources investigation' into all teachers involved with some controversial math homework questions that talked about slavery and beatings.

Since Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh first reported the story on Friday, it has gained a lot of national attention, including from the NAACP of Georgia, who is calling for the teacher who wrote the questions to be fired.

Officials with the district told Kavanaugh four of the nine teachers handed out the assignment, but it is unclear how many students received the assignment. Officials said they were taking statements from all nine teachers to determine how many teachers saw the questions. 

"I think I'm still in shock," parent Nicole Thompson said.

She said she still has a lot of questions about her 8-year-old son's math homework.

One word problem asked how many oranges would each slave pick. In another, Frederick was picking cotton.

Students were even asked to calculate how many beatings Frederick would get in a week.

"Who would think of such questions to ask third-grade children?" Thompson asked.

Friday, the Gwinnett County School District said the teacher was trying to reinforce social studies lessons through math but agreed the questions were inappropriate.

"I definitely want an apology. I want them to acknowledge that not only was this bad judgment on their behalf, but we need to do better," Thompson said.

The parents said they are also concerned that while their child brought it home as homework, other students did the assignment in the classroom. They said they want a notice going home notifying all parents about what happened.

"The principal also is handling concerns of parents as he meets and talks to parents," district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.


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Roach said all third-grade teachers saw these questions but handed them out anyway. The district said they launched a full human resources investigation Monday.

"We are looking at what human resources actions may be taken so I do believe that is a hard stance trying to determine what does that situation warrant," Roach said.

"One of them had to question this and say, 'Look, we cannot do this, we cannot let this go out ... let's make better questions,'" parent Christopher Braxton said.

Outrage over the questions not only came from parents but members of the community and Metro Atlanta.


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Members of the Georgia branch of the NAACP are calling for the teacher's resignation.

"The teacher needs to be fired and the person responsible for reviewing lessons needs to be reprimanded or fired," Edward DuBose of the NAACP said.

"For our district leaders not to realize that this is an affront to the entire community. To trivialize the suffering of slavery, and to put in a word game in math work sheet is unconscionable," said community activist Jennifer Falk.

Gwinnett County schools said they are not releasing the name of the teacher. District representatives said this is an isolated incident.


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