The fifth question on a Texas school’s biology assignment presented a violent scenario with little elaboration: “Suzy was assaulted in an alley and is a victim of rape.”
Police collected a sperm sample from the crime scene, students at a high school north of Houston were told. Three people were in custody. Then came the challenge, above profiles of several possible culprits: “Which of the suspects raped Suzy?”
The exercise that officials say went home with about 90 freshmen last Friday drew swift concern, astonishing parents as it made the rounds on social media and then spawned headlines. The school district soon apologized for the “inappropriate” question given out by a teacher at Klein Collins High School in Spring, about 30 miles north of Houston.
“The assignment is not part of the District’s approved curriculum and is by no means representative of the District’s instructional philosophy,” the Klein Independent School District said in a statement. It added that it investigated the homework’s source and that “appropriate corrective action has been taken.”
A district spokesman, Justin Elbert, declined to elaborate Thursday morning on steps taken. He said officials worked to address the issue “immediately” after seeing it on social media.
Parents shared their dismay at the assignment in interviews with a local news station.
“It’s upsetting, and I know girls this age, just the thought … they know that rape is forced nonconsensual sex, and that upsets them,” Cookie VonHaven, whose daughter is a 10th-grader, told KPRC 2. “That’s why I can’t fathom a teacher putting that on a test.”
The shocked reactions kept unfolding in comments online even after the school district responded as people said there were myriad other ways to test students’ skills and wondered about the judgment that let question No. 5 through.
“I’m still flabbergasted that this even made it onto a child’s homework in the first place,” one person wrote on Facebook.
The biology question was one of many school assignments that have been panned online and led officials to apologize. Last month, a Missouri school came under fire for a work sheet that asked fifth-graders to “set your price for a slave” — drawing similar worries about careless use of potentially traumatic material.
The assignment “does not speak to us taking care of each other as human beings,” the president of the NAACP’s local branch told FOX 2.