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Cuyahoga Falls City School District apologizes for controversial assignment, asks for perspective

August 28, 2018

Cuyahoga Falls City School District apologizes for controversial assignment, asks for perspective

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio – The Cuyahoga Falls City School District has issued an online apology to the community after receiving complaints last week about a controversial assignment about diversity that was given to students at Roberts Middle School.

The assignment, which asked students to choose who to save from a doomsday scenario based on variables such as sexual orientation, race and religion, will be discontinued. And a disciplinary letter was placed in the file of the math teacher who gave the assignment.

“What we questioned was the delivery and the age-appropriateness [of the assignment,]” Superintendent Todd Nichols said in an interview with cleveland.com

The teacher, whom Nichols identified as Richard Perich, could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Perich’s assignment, “Whom to Leave Behind,” asked seventh and eighth-grade students in four classes to imagine the impending destruction of Earth and to choose eight of 12 people to save. Descriptions of the people included a “militant African-American medical student,” a “homosexual, male professional athlete” and a “female movie star who was recently the victim of sexual assault.”

Nichols posted the apology on the home page of the school district’s website, acknowledging that the assignment upset parents. But Nichols also stressed the importance of putting the assignment in perspective, saying it was “aligned with the goals of the District.”

The assignment, taken from University of Houston’s Diversity Activities Resource Guide, was intended to “promote tolerance and break down stereotypes,” Nichols wrote.

“It is the responsibility of a 21st-Century educator to deliver a holistic education to all of their students.  In Cuyahoga Falls, one of our objectives is to engage in conversations concerning diversity and social justice,” Nichols stated. 

Nichols assured the public that future assignments on diversity will be more carefully selected.

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