But the Gwinnett County School District has launched an investigation to determine how the offending questions made it onto the students’ homework sheets.
The math homework assignment was given to more than 100 students at Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross, Ga., as part of a social studies lesson, Gwinnett County school officials said. The assignment outraged parents, community activists and members of the Georgia NAACP.
Sloan Roach, a Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman, told ABCNews.com that the students were studying famous Americans and as an attempt to create a cross-curricular worksheet, one teacher used Frederick Douglass and slavery beatings for two of the questions.
Although only one teacher wrote out the controversial questions, another teacher made copies of the assignment and it was distributed to four out of nine third grade classes at Beaver Ridge, Roach said. The school is not publicly naming any of the teachers who are suspected to be involved.
“We are conducting a human resources investigation, and working with the principal to get statements from the teachers…so that we can make sure that we have a very good idea what exactly occurred and who was involved,” Roach said. “Obviously we understand that parents are concerned about these questions.”
One math problem question read, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”
Another asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick filled.
Roach said she agreed that the questions were inappropriate and part of the investigation would be to “make sure teachers are writing questions that are appropriate and respective,” but wouldn’t speculate on what sort of action would be taken against the teachers involved or whether district teachers would be required to have additional training.
“It does not seem there was any intent of maliciousness here, it was just a teacher who wrote some bad questions,” she said. “This was an isolated case involving these teachers at this school and at this grade level.”