A Jersey City high school science teacher was suspended after an impromptu rant during a Zoom class yesterday where he called George Floyd “a f***ing criminal,” as NBC New York first reported.
“I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f***ing criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn’t comply and the bottom line is we make him a f***ing hero,” Howard Zlotkin said during a class taught on Zoom for students at Dickinson High School.
The TV station first aired excerpts from the virtual session, which was reportedly during a lesson about climate change, this morning. The video also shows him giving students a double middle finger, as well as using profanity in other instances.
Zlotkin was first hired by the Jersey City Board of Education in 2001 and earned a salary of about $110,880 last year, according to public records.
Jersey City Deputy Superintendent of Schools Norma Fernandez said in a statement that students were being interviewed about Zlotkin’s conduct before a second video surfaced, leading to his suspension.
“The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed. We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect and treatment of students.”
Zlotkin is also a adjunct professor at the STEM division of the Hudson County Community College and has been suspended with pay in light of the situation, according to HCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Christopher.
“The college became aware of Mr. Zlotkin using offensive and derogatory language while
teaching a Dickinson High School Zoom class as a result of a report on WNBC-TV today. The behavior in the Zoom class is in violation of the College’s Anti-Harassment Policy and
Professional Conduct Policy.”
This evening, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) said she was “disheartened” to hear about Zlotkin’s behavior and became the first elected official to call for his termination.
“I was disheartened to see the video of a teacher in one of our Jersey City public schools verbally attacking Black students and making insensitive accusations and judgements about George Floyd,” she said in a statement.
“I have been informed that the teacher has been suspended but I am calling for him to be fired. This type of attitude can not be tolerated in our school system.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from Assemblywoman Angela McKnight.