Parents of students at a Texas high school were outraged to learn that their children watched livestream footage of the Derek Chauvin trial and were instructed to act as mock jurors for the trial as a part of a classroom assignment.
One parent complained to Cedar Hill Independent School District officials and called it “unfathomable” that the assignment was given to the freshman students without parental consent.
As first reported by local station WFAA, the parents said the students Cedar Hill High School, which has a student body that is approximately 75 per African-American, were told by the teacher at the suburban Dallas school to watch footage of the trial real-time and comply with the judge’s instructions and not speak to anyone about the trial for six weeks.
“They may not text discuss what they hear with friends, siblings, or relatives – not even the family dog,” parents say the teacherwrote in the reply about the rules for the assignment. The teacher has not been publicly identified.
“It is unfathomable to me that you felt it appropriate to force my child to watch George Floyd’s murder on television in your classroom, and then move on with his day as if nothing had happened,” one parent had written.
In a statement, the district said the assignment “was not approved by campus or district administrators.”
The Derek Chauvin murder trial, which entered its second week of testimony on Monday, includes graphic images and footage of the moments before the May 2020 death of George Floyd, who died after the former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
According to an outline provided by the teacher in response to parental complaints, the teacher explained that the students are expected to watch livestream footage of the trial for 45 minutes each day.
“Therefore, every day, your child will be attentive to the actual trial, listening and paying attention to the evidence of both sides, defense and prosecution, during the trial,” the teacher wrote in a statement parents provided to WFAA.
But parents argued in the complaint that the potentially traumatizing footage isn’t suitable for children.
““This murder seen by millions around the globe was triggering and traumatizing for adults. Yet, you left students to handle their own emotions and mental health as they left your class, without proper professional support,” read part of the response to the teacher.
The school district said in a statement that the matter had been discussed with the teacher and that the assignment will not be continued.