Ohio High School Teacher Put on Leave for Disputing How George Floyd Died

A theology teacher at a Catholic high school in Columbus, Ohio, has been put on administrative leave after disputing how George Floyd died in a virtual class.

In a written statement on Thursday, The Catholic Diocese of Columbus said that Deborah DelPrince, a teacher at Bishop Ready High School, "made unsupported personal assertions and opinions regarding George Floyd's death this past summer in Minneapolis" during a Zoom lesson.

Floyd, a black man, died of asphyxiation in his home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020, after a police officer kneeled on his neck for about nine and half minutes. Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe" and his death sparked global Black Lives Matter protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

DelPrince was caught on video making the comments about Floyd and the footage was posted and widely shared on social media.

In the video, a student shows a picture of basketball player LeBron James in a shirt reading "I Can't Breathe."

"That's not necessarily true," said DelPrince. "But it perpetuates a myth against police. I'm not sure LeBron James is in the position to be disrespectful to police officers primarily because he probably doesn't go anywhere without a bodyguard."

The student then asks DelPrince about an earlier comment saying, "I'm sorry, did you just say it's disputed that George Floyd couldn't breathe?"

"Yes, it is disputed," the teacher replied.

After being asked by the pupil "By who?" DelPrince replies, "The tape."

The student then says, "Did the medical examiner...I'm sorry, nevermind."

"OK," DelPrince says while smiling.

The student then responds by saying: "'Cause I'm going to say something that's going to get me in trouble," before the video ends.

Bishop Ready’s infamous Deborah DelPrince strikes again, only this time on camera! my two favorite parts are when she says that “I Can’t Breathe” perpetuates a MYTH about police & that the murder of George Floyd is disputed - be careful Debbie, your bigotry is showing ;) pic.twitter.com/Bup6zJuCaT

— javana ✨ (@javanaaaa) February 25, 2021

The Catholic Diocese of Columbus said in a statement: "These comments, contrary to school and diocesan guidelines, reflected extremely poor judgment, and upon learning of this incident, the instructor was immediately placed on administrative leave pending a detailed investigation."

DelPrince, who has taught at the high school since 1999, has been contacted by Newsweek for comment.

Findings in June 2020 from a second autopsy ruled that Floyd died by asphyxiation from compression to his neck and back. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Floyd's heart stopped as police restrained him and suppressed his neck, according to the report. The report said the incident was a homicide.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who was kneeling on Floyd, was fired soon after Floyd's death last May and a federal investigation was launched into whether Chauvin and three other officers who were present at the scene violated Floyd's civil rights. Chauvin's trial for state charges, including second-degree murder and manslaughter, is set to begin on March 8.

On Wednesday, reports from The New York Times and Associated Press said the U.S. Department of Justice had revived the investigation into Floyd's death, by empanelling of a new grand jury and calling new witnesses.

George Floyd graffiti
Two men walk past a wall that has "RIP George Floyd" written on it during a protest May 28, 2020 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A theology teacher at a high school in Colombus, Ohio, has been put on administrative leave after making a comment during a virtual lesson on Wednesday disputing how Floyd died. Scott Olson/Getty