A substitute teacher will not return to the classroom at Dumont High School after being accused by a student of comparing the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns to "enslavement."
The Board of Education voted last Thursday to remove Joseph Oettinger from his position as a long-term sub at the school in May, once his administrative leave expires, reports NorthJersey.com.
Video from an exchange with a student during a high school chemistry class was attached to an online petition calling for Oettinger's dismissal. At the beginning of the edited video, the teacher is seen saying, "I'll never forget it, the day humans were enslaved was on Friday the 13th. So geez, woo, that's a rough one there. 24 students, huh?"
The video them jumps to a student demanding an apology from Oettinger, saying, "You calling a pandemic enslavement is crazy." Oettinger responds, "I'm not apologizing for anything, so move on."
Then-President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020, due to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.
Oettinger had been teaching chemistry at Dumont High School since January; his contract was approved through June 30.
When contacted by NorthJersey.com, the teacher declined to elaborate on his enslavement comments. He explained he had been excelling in his position and that the petition that leave to his removal came from a student "who had previously been disruptive and demonstrated behavioral problems in my class."
In December, four Dumont science teachers were suspended with pay after a student shared screen-captures of them making homophobic remarks during a Zoom class.
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