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‘Insensitive’ Civil War homework irks elementary school parents

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. --  A lesson plan has raised questions among some parents of students at Elizabeth Scott Elementary School in Chester.

One parent, who spoke with WTVR CBS 6 on the condition of anonymity, said she was distraught about the Civil War assignment her daughter's fourth grade class received.

"That's insensitive on so many levels," the mother said. "No thought was put into this at all."

Civil War Tic-Tac-Toe

Civil War Tic-Tac-Toe

The Civil War Tic-Tac-Toe homework assignment was part of a social studies class that instructed students to follow the chart, pick three activities, and mark those activities with an X to complete the project by Friday.

But what concerned some parents was the "create a wanted poster for a runaway slave" activity.

"They have to go home and asked their loved ones for assistance with this,” the woman said. “Did they think of how offensive that would be for the loved ones to have think of making a wanted poster?"

Civil War Tic-Tac-Toe

Civil War Tic-Tac-Toe

The mother called Elizabeth Scott Elementary a melting pot of students from different backgrounds and to point one out was insensitive.

One day after students received the school assignment, the teacher sent an email to parents which read, in part:

"I need to make an important adjustment to one of the choices. I apologize for not making the correction prior to sending it home today.”

However, the teacher's apology was not enough for one parent.

"I think she needs to do one in class to the children -- especially the ones that were offended and affected by this to let them know she didn't mean any harm, that it was taken out of context and will never happen again,” the mother said.

Elizabeth Scott Elementary School

Elizabeth Scott Elementary School

When asked about the curriculum, Chesterfield County Public Schools Spokesperson Shawn Smith said the class was studying the underground railroad, Harriet Tubman, etc. and that students were given the homework assignment and told to pick three of the nine tasks.

The school was contacted by two concerned parents Tuesday afternoon after the school had closed.

Smith said the school communicated with parents Tuesday evening that the homework assignment was going to be adjusted, but then decided later that evening to cancel the assignment.

Additionally, Smith said the school will continue to work directly with parents of students in that class.