A health teacher at Howard B. Mattlin Middle School in...

A health teacher at Howard B. Mattlin Middle School in Plainview has been removed from the classroom after giving students a "deeply inappropriate assignment," said principal Joseph Coladonato in a letter to families and others in the school community. Credit: Google

A Plainview middle school teacher has been pulled from the classroom after handing out an assignment to fifth graders asking them who they would allow into a fallout shelter in the event of a nuclear attack, district officials said Wednesday. Underneath the questions were potential answers that included a drifter without apparent skills and a pregnant teenager.

Students in the teacher's health class at Howard B. Mattlin Middle School were given the assignment on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, with the question and a list of 10 potential answers for the six hypothetical spots in the shelter, plus the student.

Other choices were a sterile female doctor, a police officer with a gun and multiple pending charges and a "50-year-old musician, previously addicted to cocaine."

"Your group must decide, unanimously, who will be brought in and who will be left out?" read part of the instructions at the top of the assignment.

"The teacher has been removed from the classroom and replaced with a certified substitute teacher," said Joseph Coladonato, the school’s principal, in a letter to families in the school community.

Coladonato said the teacher, who was not publicly identified, will remain out of the classroom until an investigation is concluded. 

Newsday was unable to reach the instructor for comment.

Coladonato said in the letter that the school and the district did not condone the assignment, adding that it was age-inappropriate and out of alignment with the curriculum and state standards.

“This assignment violated all of these criteria, and has no place in our classrooms,” Coladonato said. “We condemn this type of material in the strongest possible terms.” 

The assignment told students an unknown enemy had launched the nuclear strike. Advanced warning technology would give them 20 minutes to get to a fallout shelter in their neighborhood, the assignment stated. 

When they arrived, the assignment read, students would see 10 people wanting to get inside a shelter with space for "you" and only six others to remain inside for three months.

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