School board issues apology statement

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The Beaufort County Board of Education released this statement from school board officials on Tuesday, Jan. 30 after photos posted on social media touched off outrage and controversy with parents and community members.

“The Beaufort County Board of Education apologizes that pictures depicting students dressed as Adolph Hitler and raising an arm in a Nazi salute were recently published on a school’s social media page. While the board is committed to ensuring the accurate and appropriate teaching of historical events and persons, we realize the posting of photographs and resulting comments touch on emotional and, for some, horrific, images, memories, and topics. Posting the photographs without the context of students’ projects, research, and historical input regarding Hitler’s crimes evidenced a lack of proper understanding of the emotions which may result from such images.”

Yesterday, the board officers requested a full review of this matter by the superintendent and relevant staff. We understand that Superintendent Jeff Moss and Okatie Elementary School Principal Jamie Pinckney met earlier today with Rabbi Brad Bloom. We appreciate Rabbi Bloom’s willingness to meet.

The board officers also asked Dr. Moss and staff to review and, if needed, shore up processes and protocols for similar events which may occur within BCSD schools. The board will receive follow up from Dr. Moss and Ms. Pinckney at its next regularly scheduled board meeting.”

According to local news reports, a photo of two fifth-grade boys dressed as Adolf Hitler was posted to the Okatie Elementary School Facebook page on Friday, Jan. 26, by Principal Jamie Pinckney. The photos have since been removed and the school issued an apology on Facebook on Monday, Jan. 29, that read: “It is not and was not our intent to sensationalize or glorify the acts of any of the dictators or public figures represented … History is not always pretty and nice but we hope by teaching our students about the past it is not repeated.”

The fifth grade at Okatie Elementary was participating in a “Wax Museum” project for Social Studies where students dress up as historical figures. Each student was given the assignment to select a person to research — some examples included Teddy Roosevelt ot Albert Einstein — and then the students dressed in costume and gave presentations to parents and teachers.

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