Jersey City

NJ Teacher Gives Profane Rant During Zoom Lesson, Calls George Floyd a ‘Criminal'

A student said the teacher seemed to focus on Black students, sharing his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd and angrily cursing about being "privileged"

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NBC New York’s Checkey Beckford reports.

On the same day Jersey City students finally returned to their classrooms, a high school teacher was removed from them while under investigation for allegedly going on a vulgar tirade aimed at the children in his class.

In what turned out to be a Zoom class unlike any other, students at Dickinson High School said their teacher gave them a profane rant — and a lesson in hate. A discussion on climate change devolved as teacher Howard Zlotkin aired his grievances with the students.

"If you think I'm privileged then f--- you, because my daughter thinks I'm privileged and I don't speak to her," he was seen saying in a recording of the online class session. At one point he started yelling and cursing at one student.

Timmia Williams, a 17-year-old senior, said the landscape and design teacher seemed to focus on Black students, sharing his thoughts on the killing of George Floyd.

"I hear people whining and crying about Black Lives Matter, but George Floyd was a f-----g criminal and he got arrested and he got killed because he wouldn't comply and the bottom line is we make him a f-----g hero," Zlotkin is heard saying in a recording.

Williams said the teacher called on four girls who are Black, and told them he wanted an essay from them. The student and her mother said they immediately contacted school officials and the board of education, but said they heard nothing back until after they contacted NBC New York.

"Who does that? Who would curse, I don't even curse at my own daughter," said Margie Nieves, Williams' mother.

To the shock of both mom and daughter, Zlotkin was back in class again on Thursday — and once again, was cursing at students. He went off on Williams about her refusal to complete the essay.

"I don't think you can make a case. You know what Timmia? You're full of s--t too," Zlotkin is heard saying.

Williams was upset by what her teacher said, and cried about the incident with her mother.

"She was crying. She came to me, tells me, 'Mom why is it there's a problem with my skin?'" Nieves told News 4.

The district said late Thursday that Zlotkin had been removed from teaching. They explained that "The school was in the process of taking statements from students today before proceeding with disciplinary actions, and then the second video surfaced. The teacher will not have access to students or the school as we proceed. We are appalled by the statements, profanity, disrespect and treatment of students."

NBC New York reached out to Zlotkin via email and left a message on his voicemail, but did not get a response. A knock on his door went unanswered.

Zlotkin also teaches at at least one local college, but it's unclear if they plan to take any action.