WYLIE, Texas – Wylie ISD has apologized after some of its students recieved a political cartoon as part of a lesson that likens modern day police officers to the KKK and slave owners.
The district did not defend the lesson, but rather canceled it.
A police representative accepts their apology, but says, the damage is done.
“It’s completely abhorrent. It’s disturbing and it never should have been included in any kind of assignment,” FOP National Vice President Joe Gamaldi said.
It depicts slave owners, members of the KKK, and police officers, over time, kneeling on the neck of a Black man who is saying, “I can’t breathe,” clearly making a statement about the alleged murder of George Floyd and systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.
Wylie ISD officials said it was a social studies teacher at Cooper Junior High who included the cartoon in a lesson for 400 students.
The district said the lesson was intended to be about the Bill of Rights, specifically the right to protest.
“It’s not as if they put the image out and said, ‘We’re going to have a police officer come in and tell you how that’s not true.’ That was just the image they put out,” Gamaldi, who is a Houston PD officer, said. “At a time in our country where we are so desperate to bridge the gap with our community, where we need to rebuild trust, that teacher is preaching divisiveness.”
The assignment has since been canceled.
Wylie i-s-d says these political cartoons portrayed in this lesson are not part of the district’s curriculum resources or documents.
The district did not provide an explanation from the teacher on why the cartoon was included in the lesson.
The district says it is ensuring that future class content follows the state curriculum.
Wylie ISD admits the cartoon is divisive, and issued an apology that says, in part: “We are sorry for any hurt that may have been caused through a social studies lesson that included political cartoons that reflected negatively on law enforcement. Wylie ISD values our school resource officers and all members of the law enforcement community.”
There are hundreds of comments on Wylie ISD’s Facebook page.
Most called for the teacher involved to be disciplined.
One user said, “Thank you for doing the right thing. Please discipline all those involved with this propaganda.”
Another user said, “Sorry is not enough! Those involved with the unapproved assignment have to be fired.”
Gamaldi said he received an apology from the district, but he is concerned that the depiction of police will be permanently engrained in the minds of the pre-teens and teens.
“We’re not all like that idiot who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck,” he said. “When I see imagery like that, it’s completely disgusting to me because that’s not who we are. We’re not the KKK. We’re not slave owners.”
It’s believed the cartoon was shown to 8th grade students, both online and in-person, but that is not confirmed by the district.