Newburyport High School apologizes for 9/11 math problem

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — Newburyport school administrators apologized Tuesday for homework students were given containing a math problem about the September 11th tragedy.

Parents of Newburyport High School students were outraged Wednesday after an algebra problem asked students to determine how long one of the planes was in the air before it hit the World Trade Center in 2001.

“I thought it was inappropriate,” parent Paula Quill told Boston 25 News. “I disagree with that totally, wholeheartedly.”

Parents say there’s simply no excuse for how the question was worded.

“Thinking about something so sad, with everything else going on in the world, I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” grandparent Carol Bogard told Boston 25 news.

But parents say what’s worse is the school’s personal connection to the tragedy. Tom Pecorelli, a Newburyport High School alumnus, was killed on Flight 11.

“It’s very disrespectful, that’s one of the first things that comes to mind, it’s really disrespectful,” Pecorelli’s sister Angela Wadleigh told Boston 25 News over the phone Wednesday.

Wadleigh says when she heard the question, it immediately took her back to the worst day of her life.

"Out of thousands of examples you could use in math, this is not one you could use," she said. 
In a statement, Superintendent Susan Viccaro told us, "this was assignment was not intended to be disrespectful...this was an exercise of poor judgment by the educator who intended to use the historical event as a mechanics to engage students in a thoughtful discussion."

Wadleigh says the teacher owes her and other 9/11 families an apology.

“It might have been 16 years ago, but to some of us, it’s 16 minutes ago. It’s something you don’t ever recover from, ever,” she said.

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