Students at Arroyo H.S. drew swastikas for 'Nazi time capsule' assignment
SAN LORENZO, Calif. (KTVU) - At Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, a sophomore history homework assignment about Nazism has sparked outrage.
"It did seem anti-Semitic to me," said parent Megan Johnson.
Johnson is speaking out after her daughter texted her about what she saw another student drawing-- a swastika.
"He was drawing a swastika with machine guns. He said it was for a history assignment. The English teacher made him put it away. I started crying," said Sophia Johnson.
Sophia Johnson is one of small number of Jewish students at Arroyo. She is not in that history class.
"I was uncomfortable sitting next to the student making the project. I didn't know what to think," she said.
The assignment was to create a time capsule of Nazi society.
As part of the project, students were asked to make or find symbols of Nazi values, and "draw a character with the physical features of an Aryan."
There are tons of opportunities for lessons to teach kids about what propaganda is other than swastikas," said Megan Johnson.
Her complaints led to the San Lorenzo Unified School District cancelling the assignment. The district is now looking into the matter.
"It's not necessary for us to re-create images that might be racist or anti-Semitic just to help people understand what propaganda was like at that time. It's not necessary to put students through that situation," said Ammar Saheli, director of student support services for the San Lorenzo Unified School District.
But the Johnson family says the district shouldn't just cancel the assignment without discussing with students why some people found it offensive.
"Anti-Semitism is an issue that is not talked about enough. There needs to be change that needs to happen," said Johnson.
The Anti-Defamation League has offered to help the school with any discussions about awareness and sensitivity surrounding anti-Semitism.
KTVU reached out to the teacher who assigned this project, but did not hear back.