— Pennridge Reform (@PennridgeReform) January 12, 2017
Officials at a Pennsylvania High School have apologized to parents after a teacher handed out math homework that included a question about sexual abuse. All of the questions on the homework featured math problems along with facts about Maya Angelou and her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. One question in particular asked students to identify the person who sexually abused Angelou when she was a child.
“Angelou was sexually abused by her mother’s _____ at age 8, which shaped her career choices and motivation for writing,” the question read. The three options for the answer were her mother’s boyfriend, brother, or father, with boyfriend being the correct one. In order to find the answer, students were asked to solve a math problem that was listed above the question.
Several parents at Pennridge High School in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, where the homework was handed out, were outraged over the question and brought it to the attention of school administrators. They apologized for the question on the worksheet and said that it had been “downloaded from a website that allows teachers around the world to share educational resources.” A similar homework assignment led to controversy in Fort Myers, Florida several years ago and ended with an apology from school officials as well.
Jacqueline Rattigan, the superintendent for the Pennridge School District, acknowledged the complaints over the homework assignment in a statement that was released this week. “We apologize to anyone who was offended by the content of the assignment,” she said. “And have taken steps to avoid such occurrences in the future.” It’s unclear if the teacher who gave out the assignment will be disciplined.