Third-graders are tasked with re-enacting scenes from the Holocaust, principal says

A staff librarian at an elementary school in Washington, DC, asked third-graders to re-enact the Holocaust, including asking them to dig...


A staff librarian at an elementary school in Washington, DC, asked third-graders to re-enact the Holocaust, including asking them to dig ditches for mass graves and fake shootings, according to an email that the school principal sent to parents on Friday evening.

A student has been assigned to represent Hitler, according to the email.

The staff member who ran the activity at Watkins Elementary School, in the Capitol Hill section of southeast Washington, also allegedly made anti-Semitic statements during the episode, principal MScott Berkowitz said in the ‘E-mail.

The staff member has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is investigated, Berkowitz said. The episode was also referred to the district’s central equity response team, which typically responds to incidents of hate and bias, Berkowitz said.

“I want to recognize the seriousness of this bad teaching decision, as students should never be asked to act out or portray an atrocity, especially genocide, war or murder,” Berkowitz said. “This lesson is in no way endorsed by school leadership or the DCPS program,” he added, referring to public schools in the District of Columbia.

Student assigned to Hitler’s role is Jewish, parent says The Washington Post reported. The child, the Post said, was asked to pretend to kill himself, as Hitler did.

Another relative, The Post reported, said his son had to pretend to be on a train to a concentration camp, then act like he died in a gas chamber. This student, the parent said, also had to act as if he was shooting his peers.

The third year was working last week on a research project that would culminate in a classroom presentation before winter break, Berkowitz said in his email. But officials received reports on Friday that students were being asked to re-enact the Holocaust as part of library time, he said.

Mr Berkowitz, who did not immediately respond to a message on Sunday evening, did not disclose the name of the staff librarian in his email. A spokesperson for the District of Columbia public schools also did not confirm the name. But the parents, including one whose child was in the classroom, identified the woman as Kimberlynn Jurkowski, who, according to her LinkedIn profile, has been a school district library specialist since 2014.

Ms Jurkowski did not respond to a message sent via social media and calls to several numbers listed for her were not answered.

This was not Ms. Jurkowski’s first meeting with a school district. She was sentenced in October 2013 for defrauding the Hamilton Township, New Jersey, school district of nearly $ 24,000 in a tutoring scam, according to The Press of Atlantic City, a local newspaper. The district, according to the newspaper, paid for tutoring for Ms Jurkowski’s two children, but she and the tutor continued to bill the district for several months after the tutoring stopped.

The report states that she cooperated with the state and participated in an intervention program, which typically targets first-time offenders and usually ends with the removal of a conviction from a person’s record.

A DCPS spokesperson did not respond to whether the district was aware of Ms. Jurkowski’s previous issues.

Enrique Gutierrez, the spokesperson, said in a statement that officials have opened an investigation into the Holocaust reenactment.

“This was not an approved lesson plan,” he said, “and we sincerely apologize to our students and families who were the victims of this incident.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Third-graders are tasked with re-enacting scenes from the Holocaust, principal says
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