According to the Post, when students asked the teacher why the Germans had committed genocide, the teacher reportedly replied it was “because the Jews ruined Christmas.” A parent told the Post that the teacher allegedly asked students not to tell anyone about the incident, but some students reported it to their homeroom teacher.
Students suffered emotional and mental distress after the incident. One parent recalled her son’s experience of having to pretend to be on a train to a concentration camp and acting as if he was shooting his peers before pretending to die in a gas chamber.
“They are traumatized. One parent said that their child was worried the teacher in question was hiding at their house. Children are having nightmares and generally having a very hard time,” the parent told Fox 5. The parent added that the Jewish student who was told to play Hitler “is not doing well at all.”
According to Berkowitz’s email, the entire class met with the school’s mental health response team.
“I want to acknowledge the gravity of this poor instructional decision,” Berkowitz’s email read, “as students should never be asked to act out or portray any atrocity, especially genocide, war, or murder.”
The incident has been reported to the DC Public Schools’ Comprehensive Alternative Resolution and Equity Team, which is investigating the incident.
“DC Public Schools is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all students,” DCPS said in a statement to The Hill.
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”