In a letter sent to families of students at Lafayette Elementary School, Principal Carrie Broquard classified the task as a mistake, saying that students "should not have the task of representing or portraying different perspectives on slavery and war."
"At Lafayette, we believe in the importance of teaching painful history with sensitivity and social awareness," Broquard wrote in the December 23 letter. "Unfortunately, we fell short of these values in a recent fifth grade lesson."
Broquard wrote that fifth graders have been studying Civil War and Reconstruction in recent weeks. Students began the unit by reading an article titled "A Divided Nation." The teaching team made the students even more involved with the material by doing a dramatic reading, creating a vivid picture or creating a small group podcast, according to a separate letter addressed to the families of the fifth grade students of the team. fifth grade school teacher.
Some colored students were invited by their classmates to play "inappropriate and harmful" roles, including "a colored person drinking from a segregated water source and a person enslaved," the team wrote.
During classroom circles and small group discussions, Broquard said, some students said they were uncomfortable with the papers their classmates had asked of them. Others, she said, did not know how to respond or defend their colleagues who were uncomfortable.
"We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so that we could set appropriate parameters to protect students," the fifth grade team said.
The lesson will not be offered in the future, Broquard said. CNN emailed her for further comments, but she didn't respond immediately.
The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) found the lesson inappropriate and said the school was responding to the situation.
"We recognize that the approach to learning carried out around this lesson was inappropriate and detrimental to students," DCPS said in a statement to CNN.
"The school has acknowledged its mistakes, addressed the issue with families and is actively reinforcing the values of racial equity throughout the school community. We support Lafayette Elementary because it encourages young scholars to be models of conscience and social responsibility."
How is the school responding
Broquard described a series of steps the school is taking in response to the lesson.
In her letter, she said that the directly affected students are meeting with the school's emotional emotional learning team and board members to "process and talk" about the incident. Emotional emotional learning staff and a school racial equity committee will work to ensure that all tasks are "culturally sensitive and appropriate," she wrote.
The team will attend a full-day equity and race training in January, and the school plans to set up a diversity and inclusion committee, the letter said.
"As leader of the Lafayette school community, I am distressed that this happened and sad that our students were injured," Broquard wrote in the letter. "The voices of our students, their resilience and their compassion continue to inspire me to move us all better."
Schools stumbled into slavery
Schools across the country have made headlines in recent years after their lessons on slavery were perceived as inappropriate and harmful.
In December, a teacher at a Missouri elementary school He was put on administrative leave after a social studies assignment asked some students to imagine that they worked in the slave trade and "set the price of a slave."In September, a professor of social studies on Long Island, New York, told students to write "funny" subtitles to images of formerly enslaved people, provoking outrage among parents. An investigation by the New York Attorney General's office found that an incident in which a state social studies professor highlighted African-American students and cast them as enslaved people in a "mock auction" had a "profoundly negative effect on all students present". And in February, a primary school in Virginia apologized for cultural insensitivity After a PE class, a game was presented that required students to mimic movement by the underground railway.
CNN's Carma Hassan contributed to this report.
. (tagsToTranslate) us (t) DC school apologizes after fifth color series invited to portray enslaved people – CNN