DC schools investigating Holocaust lesson in which students told to play Hitler, simulate gravedigging: report

Watkins Elementary School students reportedly ‘traumatized’ by teacher’s lesson

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DC Public Schools tells Fox News on Monday it has launched an investigation after elementary students reportedly were instructed to re-enact the Holocaust, including portraying Adolf Hitler and "digging ditches to serve as mass graves." 

The lesson apparently given to third graders at the Watkins Elementary School library on Friday left the students "traumatized," according to one parent who spoke to Fox5 DC

"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," DC Public Schools told Fox News in a statement Monday. "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 school where the lesson was taught, according to Fox5 DC.

The school where the lesson was taught, according to Fox5 DC.

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The district also said the staff member involved in the incident has been placed on leave pending an investigation. 

"This was not an approved lesson plan, and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were subjected to this incident," DC Public Schools said, adding that it is "committed to creating a welcoming environment for all students." 

In a letter sent home to parents, the principal of Watkins Elementary School – citing reports he had received – said the lesson included "students being asked to portray participants from the Holocaust like Adolf Hitler, digging ditches to serve as mass graves, and simulated shootings," according to Fox5 DC. 

"My husband picked up our child after school and there was a lot of sobbing and crying and distress," one mother told the station. 

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The mother claimed her child was told to pretend to choke and die inside a gas chamber and had to watch students simulate digging their own graves, Fox5 DC reported. 

The parent added that the child instructed to portray Hitler is "not doing well at all" and other kids are struggling as well, based on conversations she has had with other parents. 

"They are traumatized. One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house," the mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fox5 DC. "Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time." 

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The school reportedly is offering counseling for the affected students. 

"We just want accountability for this," the mother told Fox5 DC. "Sorry is not enough. And we’re going to lay out what that looks like as parents."