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In a series of tweets shared Tuesday, Keith Gamble (@KeithJGamble) said children at the school, identified in a BuzzFeed News report as McFadden School of Excellence in Murfreesboro, had been giving the salute outside of class hours "for weeks," following an assignment for fifth-graders in which another student was told to give the salute "in a Hitler costume."
Rutherford County Schools spokesperson James Evans confirmed the assignment in a statement Tuesday, telling BuzzFeed that "one student became upset and had an outburst" when the salute was given during a rehearsal May 9. "The student was not disciplined or punished in any way for her concerns or actions," Evans said, adding that the school "agrees" that the actions of the offending students was uncalled for.
Gamble also shared screenshots of what he says are emails between his wife and the school's principal, as well as comments from a teacher. In these messages, it's said that students first gave the salute back in April during another rehearsal for the project.
According to a teacher, whose name is blacked out in the screenshots, Gamble's daughter was given "an open platform" in mid-April to express her thoughts on the project and told by staff "not to address it again." There also appears to have been some debate about continuing with the Nazi salute portion of whatever this was supposed to be.
Moving forward, the school has said it will no longer utilize a Hitler portrayal in its fifth-grade history projects. Additionally, students were reportedly given a talk from school officials regarding the incident, with teachers claiming they intervened on two occasions of other students using the Nazi salute outside of rehearsals.
Complex has reached out to the Rutherford County Schools Communications Department for additional comment and will update this post accordingly.
Sadly, this is far from the first time such an incident has occurred. There have been numerous examples of similar behavior across the country in recent years, including the viral photo of California high school students playing swastika beer pong.