Parenting

3rd Graders Reportedly Told To Reenact Horrifying Scenes From The Holocaust

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An elementary school staffer has been placed on leave after third graders were reportedly asked to act out violent scenes from the Holocaust, including digging mass graves and dying in gas chambers

In today’s “How the heck did anyone think this was OK?!” news, a staff member at Washington D.C.’s Watkins Elementary School has been placed on leave after reportedly telling a class of third graders to reenact elements of the Holocaust. Students were allegedly asked to act out scenes that included digging mass graves for their classmates, shooting one another, traveling on a train to a concentration camp, and dying in a gas chamber. The staffer was put on leave on Friday, pending an investigation.

“Earlier today, we received a report of a classroom of students receiving a lesson that included portraying different perspectives of the Holocaust,” Principal MScott Berkowitz wrote in a letter to parents. “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 our school.”

The staff member was not specified in the letter and has not been named in news reports about the incident. It’s unclear if it was a teacher or another member of the school’s staff.

Berkowitz’s letter continued to detail that one student was asked to play Hitler and to act out committing suicide at the end of the exercise. That student was reportedly Jewish. The staffer also allegedly made anti-Semitic statements throughout the exercise, including telling the children that the Germans committed atrocities against Jewish people “because the Jews ruined Christmas.” They allegedly urged the class not to tell anyone about the reenactments they were being asked to perform.

Berkowitz said the class met with the school’s mental health response team after the exercise.

“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” the school district said in a statement, adding that the district has “launched an investigation, and students are being supported by our DCPS Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team.”