An elementary school in Washington, D.C issued an apology after giving black students an assignment stating that they had to portray slaves.
Lafayette Elementary School Principal Carrie Broquard said the assignment was a mistake after teachers got carried away while teaching students about the Reconstruction Era and the Civil War.
Broquard said the students “should not have been tasked with acting out or portraying different perspectives of enslavement and war.”
“At Lafayette, we believe in the importance of teaching painful history with sensitivity and social awareness,” Broquard wrote in the statement according to CNN. “Unfortunately we fell short of those values in a recent 5th grade lesson.”
The team of fifth grade teachers also sent home a letter to families apologizing
“We deeply regret that we did not foresee this as a potential challenge in role playing so we could set appropriate parameters to protect students,” the fifth grade team said in the letter.
As a part of the assignment, black students were asked to create a podcast, a living picture or dramatic reading. The black students were asked to reenact scenes like “a person of color drinking from a segregated water fountain and an enslaved person.”
The District of Columbia Public Schools also released a statement reassuring the public that Lafayette Elementary School is proactively addressing this controversial mistake.
“We acknowledge the approach to learning that took place around this lesson was inappropriate and harmful to students,” DCPS said in a statement to CNN. “The school recognized its mistakes, addressed the matter with families, and is actively reinforcing values of racial equity across the entire school community. We support Lafayette Elementary as it nurtures young scholars to be models of social awareness and responsibility.”
The black fifth grade students are also meeting with the school’s social- emotional team so they can process this situation, which many of them were reportedly uncomfortable with or unsure of how to respond to.