An elementary school in Washington, D.C. issued an apology to parents of its fifth-grade class after Black and POC children were asked to portray slaves for a lesson. Officials at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest Washington sent out the letter last month ahead of winter break.
Lafayette Elementary, which has a number of Black and POC members among its staff, sent out the letter on Dec. 23 last year after fifth-graders studying the Civil War and Reconstruction period were tasked to create a project using the information they learned.
As reported by The Washington Post last week, Principal Carrie Broquard, who is white, wrote in the letter that the fifth-graders, “should not have been tasked with acting out or portraying different perspectives of enslavement and war.”
In a bid to empower students to create original content in relation to their study focus, fellow students asked their peers to portray enslaved persons and to also act out water fountain segregation scenes.
Principal Broquard acknowledged that the assignment was a mistake on the school’s part and will not engage in future assignments of the sort in the future. Along with the letter, Broquard added that her staff will attend cultural diversity and sensitivity training along with several assurances that future tasks will be “culturally sensitive and appropriate.”
The school rests in the affluent upper Northwest section of Washington that borders Maryland’s Montgomery County line and the city of Bethesda, which is also known as one of the region’s more upper-class dwellings. It hasn’t been reported what the racial demographic makeup is for the school.