Parents Express Support for ‘Devastated’ Fifth-Grade Student, Teachers Caught in New Jersey School Row Over Hitler Biography
Parents at a school in New Jersey came out in support of their principal, a teacher and a fifth-grade student at the heart of a controversy over the display of a biography of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, which contained the words, “I was pretty great, wasn’t I?”
Local media outlet North Jersey reported that trio won the support of parents attending the Monday night School Board meeting of Maugham Elementary School in the town of Tenafly. The one-page bio of Hitler, written in the first person, was displayed in the school’s hallway alongside similar assignments from other students, where it was noticed by a parent whose subsequent complaint triggered an urgent investigation into the school by Shauna C. DeMarco, Superintendent of Tenafly Public Schools.
A statement from the fifth-grade class expressed support from students and parents for the affected teacher and student. In the statement, read by multiple parents, the student told her classmates that she had spoken as Hitler to show how he was a “horrible man.”
Before the student gave her presentation, the teacher, who is Jewish, had been hesitant about the report, but decided to let the student go through with it after getting input and advice from a rabbi, said the statement.
“We discussed that only [by] learning about Hitler’s motivations can we begin to understand why so many followed him and why his rise to power was facilitated,” said the statement, which was put together with input from the students.
Another statement was read on behalf of the anonymous parents of the student, describing the harm that social media comments had on their children and asking the community to respect their anonymity and privacy.
“We don’t want her to be living in fear,” the parents said in their statement.
The statement thanked families in the community and leaders of the Jewish community who offered words of support for their devastated daughter.
“We are very saddened that this controversy is ripping at the seams of our community and has reopened the wounds of many of our friends and neighbors,” added the parents in the statement. “For this, we sincerely apologize.”