A 10th-grade geometry teacher at Oxon Hill High School has been reassigned after he gave students an exam that used references to drugs and weapons in word problems.
The teacher, whose name was not disclosed by the Prince George's County school system, has been given an office job that does not involve contact with students while officials investigate the incident. In a letter sent home with students yesterday, the high school's principal, Ronald Curtis, explained that the teacher "inadvertently" distributed an "e-mail 'joke' math examination."
Officials did not say when the exam was given, but several students and a parent said it was during the first week of school this year. The incident was first reported by WRC-TV (Channel 4).
The questions, which the teacher found on the Internet, included: "Jose has 2 ounces of cocaine. If he sells an 8 ball to Antonio for $320 and 2 grams to Juan for $85 per gram, what is the street value of the rest of his hold?" Another example: "Willie gets $200 for a stolen BMW, $150 for stealing a Corvette, and $100 for a 4X4. If he steals 1 BMW, 2 Corvettes, and 3 4X4's, how many more Corvettes must he steal to have $900?"
At the top of the test, students were asked to write their name as well as their "gang name."
In his letter to parents, Curtis, the principal, said the teacher immediately collected the test from students but was not able to retrieve all of them.
However, Jennifer McNeill, an Oxon Hill resident, said that her 15-year-old daughter took the test and that the teacher returned the test to students earlier this week and reviewed the answers with them. "I was flabbergasted. I was outraged," McNeill said. "I was in shock. Mad, angry. I felt betrayed."
School officials said in a statement yesterday that the teacher had an excellent professional reputation and had no record of previous allegations of misconduct.
Several students defended the teacher yesterday, carrying signs supporting him as classes ended for the day and arguing that he was simply trying to relate to them. "It was just a joke," said Delonte Budd, 15. "It didn't offend. He's a good teacher."
June White Dillard, president of the Prince George's chapter of the NAACP, said the school system should give the teacher a more serious punishment. "We can't have these negative stereotypes going on," she said. "It was extremely poor judgment. We want this to be lesson to all of the teachers."