Florida Math Teacher Fired for Inappropriate Lesson Comparing Student Skin Tones with Coffee Shades: Incident Results in Immediate Removal

A math teacher in Florida faced dismissal after an incident where he made inappropriate comparisons between his students’ skin tones and different coffee roasts. The principal of Lake Worth Community High School in Palm Beach described the incident as “racially-charged,” which led to Cary Altschuler’s immediate removal from his teaching duties.

Generating Controversy in the Classroom

During a math lesson in March, Altschuler displayed photos of three students on a digital whiteboard. He labeled each student as “extra cream,” “medium roast,” and “dark roast,” allegedly representing their skin tones. This incident, as reported by the Palm Beach Post, received significant backlash.

School District Takes Swift Action

Students reported the incident and shared it on social media, leading to widespread criticism. The Palm Beach County School District promptly condemned the incident and promised to investigate Altschuler’s actions. In a letter to parents, Dr. Elena Villani, Principal of Lake Worth High School, reprimanded Altschuler for presenting “egregiously inappropriate content.”

Consequences of the Incident

During the investigation, Altschuler was reassigned to a non-student facing role. On Wednesday, the school board voted in favor of Altschuler’s dismissal, citing ethical violations. CBS12 reported that these violations included engaging in bullying or harassing behavior based on race.

Altschuler Admits Mistake

Altschuler, 48, admitted to making a “major mistake.” He explained that he was trying to use humor to engage with his students when he made the coffee analogy, a decision he now regrets. According to Altschuler, the inappropriate display stemmed from a conversation where two students were teasing each other about their skin tones. Altschuler advised them to be creative if they chose to tease each other.

Altschuler’s Career and Future Plans

Altschuler acknowledged that he should not have gotten involved in the situation and described his behavior as “stupid.” His termination from Palm Beach Schools will be effective on August 25. The educator, who has been teaching at Lake Worth High School since August 2020, has decided not to contest the board’s decision and is prepared to face the consequences.

Before joining Lake Worth, Altschuler taught at various high schools in Broward County and Hollywood. As the community continues to react to this incident, Altschuler’s future in education remains uncertain.

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