High School Teacher Under Investigation After Students Receive Lessons with Controversial Cartoon

The five-panel cartoon contained images of a police officer and a sheriff kneeling over the necks of black men alongside a slave owner and a Klansman.

A school in New York is facing criticism after a high-school teacher handed out a lesson plan with a Black Lives Matter protest image comparing law enforcement to slave owners and members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), according to a report.

Christopher Morena, a teacher at the Westlake High School in Westchester County, New York, distributed his 11th-grade students a handout on Sept. 8, which included a five-frame cartoon.

Cartoon Likens Cops to KKK, Slave Owners

The first three frames show slave owners and Klansman with their knees on the backs of black men in shackles and nooses around their neck. However, the last two panels depict a sheriff and a police officer each with their knees on the neck of a black man in handcuffs.

The black man is shown as saying "I can't breathe," the words George Floyd gasped as his neck was knelt on by former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, which sparked months of protests against police brutality across the country.

controversial cartoon
The controversial cartoon in the lesson handout given to the students at Westlake High School. Twitter

'Disturbing' and 'Disgusting'

"My daughter showed me the paper. I said, 'What is this?! You've got to be kidding me!' " said Ania Paternostro, one of the student's parents. "This cartoon compares the police to the KKK. It's an attack on the police."

"Enough is enough," she continued before noting that she filed a complaint with the Mount Pleasant School District Superintendent Kurt Kotes and Westlake High School Principal Keith Schenker.

"This cartoon is disturbing. We have to respect the men in blue who protect us," Paternostro added. "We don't need a teacher brainwashing my kids. I'll teach my kids about what's right and what's wrong."

"The cartoon was disgusting,'' Paternostro's daughter, Nicole, said. "It compared the police with all the terrible people in history. It was not fair. It wasn't right.'' Nicole added that she is now being branded a racist and has is being subjected to cyberbullying for complaining about the lesson plan.

Superintendent Orders Investigation

Westlake High School
Westlake High School Facebook

Superintendent Kotes replied to Paternostro's letter and reached out to the parents of the other students in the class promising an "investigation" into the lesson plan

"I want to address an issue that I have recently been advised is of deep concern to many members of our community,'' Kotes wrote in the letter. "Specifically, I have been advised that one of our High School teachers may have recently conducted a lesson that many have deemed to be highly controversial in the current climate.

"I want to assure the community that the District will be conducting a thorough investigation to determine what exactly occurred in this particular classroom and what, if any, action is to be taken under the circumstances to appropriately address the matter,'' he said.

"Once the investigation has been completed we will follow up with the community to the extent necessary and legally appropriate."