The San Dieguito Union High School District said it would organize a listening session, offer anti-bias training for staff and review its curriculum in response to blowback from parents and leaders in the Jewish community over a lesson that featured Adolf Hitler.
The picture of Hitler was included on a board of images with the likes of Gandhi, JFK, MLK, Winston Churchill and other historical figures in a 7th-grade class at Carmel Valley Middle School.
“I think a portrait of Adolf Hitler on the wall is inappropriate. This is one of the worst people in history,” said Dr. Roy David whose 12-year-old son goes to Carmel Valley. “All these role models — and Adolf Hitler — it's wrong, it's just wrong.”
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David said his son, who is Jewish and whose family members were victims of the Holocaust, told the teacher the picture on the board “trivializes the Holocaust.” The teacher responded, according to Dr. David, by saying, "'Well, Hitler may have done some bad things, but he also had strong leadership qualities.’"
"To me, it was just too much at that point," David said.
The district said "The images were directly related to the curriculum and displayed during a lesson," and said the photo of Hitler was taken down " ... after concern was raised regarding one of the images and the impact it had on a student ..."
David said he contacted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which called the school. At that point, the ADL said the principal had already taken it down. The ADL also said plans are in the works for the ADL to educate those at the school, as it does to other schools and places needing education.
On Tuesday, the district sent an updated statement to the school community and outlined action planned in response to community feedback.
"San Dieguito Union High School District acknowledges the anxiety and hurt to our Jewish community at Carmel Valley Middle School (CVMS) as referenced by the message from the Principal; for that, we are deeply sorry. We are responsible for creating a safe school culture, which is done with the teacher’s presence, words, and practices, and we know that we did not meet that standard with the recent situation at CVMS," the statement read, in part.
The district said it plans to:
- Organize a listening session with Jewish community leaders for district and campus staff
- Provide anti-Semitism-focused anti-bias training for staff
- Review the lesson in question
"We look forward to listening to our Jewish community on how we can come together," the district said.