Florida Teacher Fired for Comparing Students’ Skin to Coffee

A Florida high school math teacher was officially fired Wednesday for comparing his students’ skin color to coffee back in February.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Lake Worth High School AP math teacher Cary Altschuler was terminated by the School District of Palm Beach County’s Board of Education with a unanimous vote during its June 14 meeting.

According to the report, Altschuler, 48, posted photos of three students on his classroom board in February describing them as “extra cream,” “medium roast,” and “dark roast” referring to their skin tones.

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Principal Elena Villani apologized for the incident to parents in a letter, saying the action was “racially charged,” and “egregiously inappropriate.”

He was moved to another job within the district during an internal investigation of the incident, the report said.

In a May 19 letter to the teacher from Superintendent Michael Burke, the administrator said there was “just cause” for his termination following the investigation uncovering “clear and convincing evidence.”

“I will recommend your termination from employment at the Wednesday, June 14, 2023, school board meeting,” Burke wrote. “At the conclusion of the investigation, the allegations were substantiated.”

A USA Today report from March 6 said that the incident was not the first time the teacher was accused of acting inappropriately with students.

The news outlet reported that he was formally reprimanded in 2018 and placed on two years’ probation by the Florida Department of Education for making inappropriate, and sometimes sexual, comments to female students, making them feel uncomfortable.

“This panel, which includes fellow educators, believes that, as a teacher, you are required to exercise a measure of leadership beyond reproach,” state education practices commission presiding officer Christina Basso wrote in a letter to Altschuler, the report said. “By your actions, you have lessened the reputation of all who practice our profession and have diminished your position as an educational leader. The profession cannot condone your actions, nor can the public who employ us.”

He was fined $750 for that offense, the outlet reported.

The report said he taught at several schools in the state, including high schools in Broward County, the Avant Garde Academy in Hollywood, and Somerset Academy Charter School in Pembroke.

He had been teaching at Lake Worth since 2020 and was also coaching the girls flag football team, as well as being on the boys’ team staff, the report said.

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