A New Jersey high school dismissed a teacher earlier this week after he engaged in a profanity-laced rant against George Floyd, the Minnesota resident who died roughly a year ago while being arrested by former police officer Derek Chauvin.
According to officials at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, the former instructor, Howard Zlotkin, began a class over Zoom last week talking about climate change before he launched into an expletive-filled tirade against Floyd, calling him a “f**king criminal, according to NBC New York.
The outlet said that it isn’t clear what prompted or provoked Zlotkin’s rant.
“If you think I’m privileged then f**k you, because my daughter thinks I’m privileged and I don’t speak to her,” Zlotkin said during the online class, which was apparently recorded and then shared with the local outlet.
At another point, Zlotkin looked as if he flipped a middle finger to one student, saying “F**k you.”
The former teacher went on to disparage Floyd, who died after being pinned by Chauvin’s knee to his neck on the pavement for nearly nine minutes in May 2020. Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter for the act last month.
“I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f**king criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply, and the bottom line is we make him a f**king hero,” Zlotkin said in the class, according to the video.
Seventeen-year-old senior Timmia Williams said Zlotkin, who taught landscape and design, appeared to focus his wrath at black students as he ripped on the killing of Floyd.
“I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f**king criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply and the bottom line is we make him a f**king hero,” he said.
Williams told NBC New York that Zlotkin called on four female students, all of whom were black, and assigned them an essay to write. She told her mother about the incident and both of them contacted school officials as well as the board of education immediately to report the incident. But they said they had not heard back from anyone until after they contacted the local news outlet.
“Who does that? Who would curse, I don’t even curse at my own daughter,” Margie Nieves, Williams’ mother, told the outlet.
Both were surprised to see that Zlotkin was again teaching the following day — Thursday — where he once again engaged in profanity-laced exchanges with students. NBC New York said he ripped on Williams after she failed to complete the assigned essay.
“I don’t think you can make a case. You know what Timmia? You’re full of s**t too,” Zlotkin is heard saying on the video.
The tongue-lashing led Williams to tears, according to her mother.
“She was crying. She came to me, tells me, ‘Mom why is it there’s a problem with my skin?'” Nieves told the outlet
Later Thursday, school district officials said they had relieved Zlotkin of his teaching duties.
“The school was in the process of taking statements from students today before proceeding with disciplinary actions, and then the second video surfaced,” officials said, as reported by NBC New York.
“The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed. We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect and treatment of students,” the officials added.
Zlotkin also reportedly teaches at a local community college, but NBC New York reported it was unclear if that institution was planning to take any disciplinary action against him.
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