RALSTON, Nebraska (KETV) — A Ralston High School junior and his mother are both shocked and confused after the student’s yearbook photo was used in a science exam without his permission.
The first question on the zoology final showed a picture of 17-year-old Ezekiyal Wells and asked “Which class includes the animal shown?”
“Why are you using my picture out of everybody else you have in the class?” asked Wells.
The first seven questions of the exam all ask the same question with various pictures, all with the same possible answers: agnatha, amphibia, aves, chondrichthyes, osteichthyes, mammalia and reptilia.
The high school principal gave the Wells family a printed copy of the exam. In that copy, Wells’ photo is the only human or student photo part of the test.
The 17-year-old told KETV Newswatch 7 that he isn’t even in the class, so he had no idea his photo was on the test until other students showed him.
“To me, it came out more racist if anything because it’s like you’re trying to identify me as something,” said Wells. “I know I’m a human, you’re not about to sit here and say I’m other than that.”
Wells said he took a zoology course for only a quarter with the same teacher more than a year ago. He said they haven’t really spoken since.
“Why me? Out of everybody? Why do you have to pick me out of everybody you had a chance to choose from? Why do you have to pick me out?” said the junior.
His mom, Natalie Wells, said the teacher called her Monday and apologized multiple times.
“I’m like, ‘What would make you do it?’ He says, ‘Well last year in class we had a conversation about primates,’ and that’s as far as he got in the conversation before mom instincts kicked in,” she said.
She said it would have maybe made her feel better if the test included other students of other races, but her son was the only photo. Regardless, she’s not OK with any human being referred to as an “animal.”
“As a teacher, you should have had enough common sense, you should have had enough respect,” she said.
Ralston Public Schools sent KETV Newswatch 7 a statement, saying:
“Ralston Public Schools was made aware late [Monday] of a situation that occurred at Ralston High School. This incident involved one of our teachers, in very poor judgment, who used a student’s photo on a test given to a class.
“As a district, we highly value the diversity in our school community. The action taken by this teacher does not in any way represent the values and culture of Ralston Public Schools.
“We are taking this situation very seriously. Once aware, District officials immediately began an investigation and are continuing to look further into this situation. This is being handled as a personnel issue, and as such, we can not comment on the specifics of this matter.
“Ralston Public Schools strives to provide a positive learning environment for our students and staff dedicated to achieving excellence through purposeful instruction and nurturing a climate of hope and inclusion.”
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