Florida Teacher Fired After Comparing Students' Skin Color to Coffee, Telling Students Slavery Wasn't That Bad

Cary Altschuler
The image that was put up on the school board. Twitter

A Florida math teacher was fired last week after comparing his students' skin tones to coffee roasts in what the school principal labeled a "racially-charged incident."

Cary Altschuler, who taught AP statistics and precalculus at the Lake Worth Community High School in Palm Beach, was removed from his assignments in March.

'Extra Cream,' 'Medium Roast,' 'Dark Roast'

Altschuler was sacked after he presented photos of three students on the board. The students' photos were captioned with the titles "extra cream," "medium roast" and "dark roast."

The Palm Beach County School District denounced the incident and vowed to investigate his actions after students reported the display and posted it to social media. Lake Worth High School Principal Dr. Elena Villani reportedly chastised Altschuler for showing "egregiously inappropriate content" and denounced the lesson as "racially charged" in a letter sent to parents.

The district reassigned Altschuler to a job that had no student interaction pending investigation. Last Wednesday, the board voted to terminate Altschuler, citing ethical violations, including "engaging in bullying or harassing behavior on the basis of race," CBS12 reported.

Altshculer Said He Got the Idea After Hearing Students Joking About Skin Tones

Lake Worth Community High School
Lake Worth Community High School Facebook

Altschuler, 48, said he made a "major mistake" and was just joking with his students when he made the coffee comparison, which he now regrets. The longtime teacher said he got the idea for the display after two of his students were jokingly calling each other light-skinned.He reportedly told them that "if they were going to make fun of each other to be creative."

Altschuler admitted that "he posted the three students' pictures on the Smart Board during his math class and that he took the pictures from the SIS software that teachers use for student grades and attendance. Two of the pictures were students in the classroom at the time and the other student was from last year."

Altschuler also admitted he told students that slavery wasn't that bad. His termination with Palm Beach Schools takes effect on August 25. He does not intend to fight the board's decision and has said he will accept the consequences of his actions.

Altschuler has been teaching at the Lake Worth High School since August 2020. Prior to that, he taught at high schools in Broward County and Hollywood.

This article was first published on June 20, 2023