Pennsylvania School Apologizes for Sex Abuse Math Question | NBC Southern California
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Pennsylvania School Apologizes for Sex Abuse Math Question

Questions based on Maya Angelou's life are part of math homework assignment at Pennridge High School

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A homework question referencing sexual abuse has sparked outrage for some at a local high school. But while some are angry, others are saying the literary work shouldn't be censored. NBC10's Randy Gyllenhaal has the story. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2017)

    A Bucks County school district apologized after students were given a high school math homework assignment that asked which family member had sexually assaulted a girl.

    "We apologize to anyone who was offended by the content of the assignment and have taken steps to avoid such occurrences in the future," Pennridge School District Superintendent Dr. Jacqueline Rattigan said in a statement.

    The assignment contained questions based on poet and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou's autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" -- a book the school has long assigned to students. The biography details her life, including her teen pregnancy, sexual abuse and drug use.

    The question provided a math formula and asked: "Angelou was sexually abused by her mother's ___ at age 8, which shaped her career choices and motivation for writing." Pennridge High School students needed to use the formula before deciding whether the answer was boyfriend, brother or father.

    Another question asked students whether Angelou worked as a bookie, drug dealer or night club dancer when she was "trying to support her son as a single mother."

    The district said steps were taken to make sure this type of assignment never happens again.

    "We have received a number of complaints from parents and members of the community regarding a recent high school math homework assignment which contained adult content without a proper context," said Rattigan. "The homework worksheet in question was downloaded from a website that allows teachers around the world to share educational resources. It is not part of our approved curriculum."

    The district did not comment on whether the teacher could face any disciplinary action.

    Around 2,400 students attend Pennridge High along N 5th Street in Perkasie, with about 250 faculty and staff, says the district. Top News: Britain Mourns, Health Care Vote PostponedTop News: Britain Mourns, Health Care Vote Postponed