A staff member at a Washington, DC, elementary school is under investigation after allegedly telling third-grade students to reenact incidents from the Holocaust, DC Public Schools (DCPS) said in a statement to CNN.
The instructor was placed on leave Friday pending the investigation, a DCPS official said.
The instructor at Watkins Elementary School allegedly assigned specific roles to students while in library class, casting one student as Adolf Hitler, and directing students to dig mass graves and simulate shooting victims, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the alleged incident. The parent of one of the students told the paper their child said the staff member made an anti-Semitic remark.
The parent also told the Post the instructor asked students not to tell anyone about the reenactment, but they told their homeroom teacher.
The third-grade class met with the school’s mental health response team after the incident, the Post reported.
“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 Friday and obtained by CNN.
“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 letter said.
The staff member was not named, and specifics of the alleged hate speech were not shared in Berkowitz’s letter.
“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident,” DCPS told CNN, adding the school district has “launched an investigation, and students are being supported by our DCPS Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team.”