School assignment on Derek Chauvin trial upsets students, parents

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(WYNCOTE, Penn.) — A Pennsylvania high school assignment that asked students to respond to questions about the trial of Derek Chauvin has sparked controversy over bias toward the former police officer.

Students in a criminal justice class at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, were asked to respond to 10 questions about Chauvin’s trial, in which a jury last week found him guilty of all charges in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

The assignment asked students if Chauvin should have been charged with murder “if he did not directly kill him,” because there was an “amount of drugs in his system that then affected his heart,” ABC affiliate WPVI in Philadelphia reported.

Another question asked: “Chauvin did not follow protocol and had a knee on Floyd’s neck for way longer than necessary. Floyd was resisting arrest, so why is Chauvin still considered breaking the law through negligence? Explain. If you don’t know what negligence is then look up the word.”

The assignment upset a number of students, and parents voiced their outrage over the questions, which they claimed was biased in favor of Chauvin.

“You can’t discuss something that’s so fresh. And then you don’t have facts in there, you just want people to answer your opinion,” Tim, a parent of a student at Bishop McDevitt who didn’t give their last name for fear of retribution, told WPVI. “It was just questions about the teacher’s opinion.”

Students who were uncomfortable with the assignment were reportedly given another one to complete instead, WPVI reported.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which oversees the Catholic school, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The archdiocese released a statement to WPVI saying a “handful of school families” contacted the school administration to voice concern over the assignment.

“School administration immediately communicated with those families after reviewing the assignment in question to apologize and discuss a plan of action moving forward to address the concerns. Those families with whom school administration was in contact expressed that they were pleased with the planned resolution,” the statement said.

Bishop McDevitt is scheduled to close permanently effective at the end of the 2020-21 school year as part of a restructuring by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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