A librarian at a D.C. school is on leave after she allegedly told eight- and nine-year-olds to reenact scenes from the Holocaust.
The principal of Watkins Elementary School sent an email to the parents of the third-graders, informing them a staff member instructed students “to portray participants from the Holocaust like Adolf Hitler, digging ditches to serve as mass graves, and simulated shootings,” WTTG reported.
“It was also alleged that the staff member leading the lesson also made anti-Semitic statements,” the email also stated.
The instructor allegedly assigned specific roles to the class — including Adolf Hitler. The child who was told to play the dictator was Jewish, reported the Washington Post , and is “not doing well at all,” according to the mother of another student in the class.
“My husband picked up our child after school and there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress,” she told the news outlet, adding that her own child was struggling emotionally after being told to pretend to choke and die in a gas chamber and watch her classmates pretend to dig their own graves.
“They are traumatized,” she said after having conversations with other parents.
“One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house,” she continued. “Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time.”
The mother said the librarian who gave the lesson told the students not to tell their parents, reported WTTG.
However, the children told their homeroom teacher who reported the incident.
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Officials with D.C. Public Schools issued a statement, which first emphasized its commitment to creating a welcoming environment for all its students before diving into the report they received about the lesson.
“Students should never be tasked with acting out any atrocity, especially genocide and war,” the statement read.
“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,” it continued.
“This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident.”
An investigation has been launched. The instructor was placed on leave Friday and the entire class had a meeting with the school’s mental health response team.