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The District Of Columbia Public School system has some explaining to do after one of its elementary schools assigned its Black students to portray slaves in a classroom exercise.

Principal Carrie Broquard of Lafayette Elementary School issued a statement, saying, “We believe in the importance of teaching painful history with sensitivity and social awareness. Unfortunately, we fell short of those values in a recent 5th-grade lesson.” Broquard added, “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.”

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) called the lesson inappropriate and said the school was responding to the situation.

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“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,” DCPS said in a statement.