Birmingham private school assignment compares Barack Obama to monkeys

The Roeper School is the oldest K through 12 school for gifted children in the country. But the school is facing a wave of controversy after students were given an assignment titled 'an introduction to primates' and former President Barack Obama's photo was listed.

The assignment was passed out in the high school biology class earlier this month. The Birmingham private school prides itself on diversity and an alternative education, which costs up to $30,000 each year.

But this month, the curriculum passed out to students instructed students to pick from a gallery of photos labeled apes, monkeys, and lemurs. And there, in the second row, is former President Barack Obama.

FOX 2 obtained a photo of the school assignment from someone who was appalled at the racist messaging, which came from a teacher.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for The Roeper School sent us a statement with little context about the worksheet that read:

"We are aware of the lesson taught and continue to review the incident. We are not providing additional information out of respect for the privacy of our community members."

However, FOX 2 also obtained the letter that was sent to parents that explained the worksheet was taken from a 'highly regarded university' website and assigned in a high school biology class. 

The letter said in part, "On behalf of Roeper School’s leadership, I would like to acknowledge the disturbing racial offense contained in this worksheet and sincerely regret its use and the harm it has caused."

The school is offering counseling to students affected by the assignment, and they’ll continue training staff to educate on racial bias in the classroom.  

The letter also stated that the teacher has taken responsibility and admits to not properly vetting the resource. It did not state where, exactly, the assignment was obtained.


High school biology students at the Roeper School were given an assignment that listed 'an introduction to primates' and included a picture of former President Barack Obama.