Third graders at Watkins Elementary School were allegedly instructed by a staff member to reenact scenes from the Holocaust, including digging ditches for bodies, simulating shootings and performing as Hitler.
The staff member who allegedly forced the students to participate also reportedly made antisemitic comments, according to DC Public Schools.
Enrique Gutierrez, a DC Public Schools spokesperson, told USA TODAY: "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. This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident."
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The incident traumatized students and concerned many parents of the school, local station Fox5 reports.
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"My husband picked up our child after school and there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress," a mother of one of the children told Fox5.
The staff member involved in this incident has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
In 2013, the same staff member was also forced to leave a job after being charged with scamming a New Jersey school district by billing $24,000 for tutoring her two home-schooled children even though they were attending a school in another district, according to The New York Times.
Since the Holocaust incident, DC Public Schools has launched an investigation, and students are being supported by the DCPS Comprehensive Alternative Resolution & Equity Team. The team is responsible for receiving claims of discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying or any unfair treatment a student, parent or visitor encounters at a DC Public School.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DC elementary school staff allegedly had kids reenact Holocaust