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A staff member at Watkins Elementary School in Washington, D.C., has been put on leave while being investigated over allegedly forcing third-graders to reenact “different perspectives of the Holocaust” that included digging mass graves and shooting victims.
Officials with D.C. Public Schools are investigating the incident that reportedly occurred during a library lesson Friday, according to The Washington Post.
Principal MScott Berkowitz sent a letter to parents stating that he had received reports of “students being asked to portray participants from the Holocaust like Adolf Hitler, digging ditches to serve as mass graves, and simulated shootings. It was also alleged that the staff member leading the lesson also made anti-Semitic statements.”
“DC Public Schools is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all students,” DCPS said in a statement. “Last week, we received a report of a classroom of students receiving a lesson that included portraying different perspectives of the Holocaust. Students should never be tasked with acting out any atrocity, especially genocide and war.”
“Additionally, there were allegations of a staff member using hate speech during the lesson, which is unacceptable and not tolerated at any of our schools,” the statement continued.
BREAKING: @dcpublicschools investigates after 3rd graders say they were forced to reenact Holocaust.
Lesson Fri. reportedly included simulated shootings, kids digging their own graves & a student playing Hitler. I spoke to a mom who didn’t want to be id’d. Latest on @fox5dc 1/2 pic.twitter.com/ysvY1bk4MC
— Lindsay Watts (@LindsayAWatts) December 20, 2021
“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” DCPS quickly asserted in response to the alleged incident.
One parent stated that the unnamed staff member told students that the Germans’ actions during the Holocaust were “because the Jews ruined Christmas.”
Another parent told FOX 5 that the lesson was given by the school librarian.
“My husband picked up our child after school and there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress,” one mother claimed.
She stated that her child was still struggling emotionally after being instructed to pretend to choke and die in a gas chamber while watching students simulate digging their own graves.
“They are traumatized. One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house. Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time,” she charged.
She also contends that the child who was forced to play Hitler was “not doing well at all.”
“We just want accountability for this,” the mother said. “Sorry is not enough. And we’re going to lay out what that looks like as parents.”
A school staff member was placed on leave after making third-grade students reenact scenes from the Holocaust, reports say: The instructor made antisemitic comments during the reenactment, including a remark that "Jews ruined Christmas," one parent told The Washington Post. pic.twitter.com/aqk7W2GhXC
— Zlata Szostak (@zlataszostak) December 20, 2021
Children were allegedly told not to tell their parents about the reenactment. The students went to their homeroom teacher and reported the lesson.
A Watkins Elementary librarian declared that “somebody’s misquoting what happened in the library that day,” asserting there was no Holocaust re-enactment or hate speech carried out during the lesson.
“I’m going to wait for the investigation. I was shocked to see it myself,” she said, referring to the letter that was sent home to parents about the lesson.
The third-grade class met with the school’s mental health response team following the incident, the Washington Post reported. The incident was reported to the DCPS’ Central Equity Response Team.
Many find it hard to believe that this kind of thing is still going on in schools… but they aren’t really surprised:
— CAH🌸📷🌼 (@CAHetherington) December 20, 2021
How did this person get hired ?!?
— JH (@jrhp2016) December 20, 2021
“This was not part of the lesson plan” or whatever the school said is no excuse. The teacher doesn’t seem like a competent professional fit for a job instructing children, period. How feasible is it that no one was aware of this persons antics and high potential to cause harm?
— latifalyles (@latifalyles) December 20, 2021
This is absolutely nuts.
— Lisa Rice #MaskUp #TestAndTrace (@LisaDTRice) December 20, 2021
IF this is true heads better roll……NO adult should EVER tell a child…..don’t tell your parents…..that alone is more than enough 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
— ginny mcknew (@ginnymcknew) December 20, 2021
It’s crazy, kids get suspended for eating pop tarts in a way that they might be in the shape of a gun. And here we have simulated shootings?
— lowerpower (@lowerpower) December 20, 2021
POS needs to be fired and never allowed to teach again in Public or Private Schools!
— ayatollahslayer (@ayatollahslayer) December 20, 2021
I can’t think of any reasonable situation where a teacher would tell students not to tell anyone about an activity they did
— trizzlor (@trizzlor) December 20, 2021
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