A Texas school district has apologized after fourth-graders at one elementary school were told to draw images of the Sept. 11 terror attacks -- including airplanes striking the Twin Towers and people jumping out of windows to their deaths.
Parent Ivie Gremillion told KFOX-TV her daughter's teacher at Hughey Elementary in El Paso had very specific instructions for students on Monday, one day before the 11th anniversary of the attacks.
"'We had to draw the boom cloud, and the planes hitting, and we had to draw people jumping out of the windows,'" Gremillion said her daughter told her.
One drawing obtained by KFOX includes people jumping out of burning buildings saying "help" and "I love you." Another features a stick figure with the words, "one-way ticket to heaven." In Gremillion's daughter's picture, the pilots of the hijacked planes are laughing.
"That's something that kids should get in trouble for drawing. That's people being murdered, people committing suicide," Gremillion said.
Gremillion said the teacher also told the class, "'The Afghans did this because they hate all of us and want to kill all of us."
"The way she worded [it] is just teaching racism and hate for an entire nation, and that's not OK," Gremillion said.
Gremillion said the assignment affected both her daughter and her neighbor's son: Gremillion's husband will be deploying to Afghanistan at the end of the year and her daughter said, "My dad's going to die." Gremillion said her neighbor's son was afraid to leave the house Tuesday, thinking similar attacks happen every 9/11.
Gremillion said she wants her daughter to know what happened on Sept. 11, but said she doesn't need to know the most disturbing details.
"She doesn't need to know that, not at her age," she said.
Officials at the El Paso Independent School District initially told KFOX the terror attacks were part of a classroom discussion and that students were instructed to draw what they had learned. A short time later, however, the district issued a statement saying they were "very concerned about the images that were drawn" and "regret the insensitivity."
"District and campus administrators are investigating the specific assignment and are interviewing the personnel involved," the statement said. "We regret the insensitivity that this action may have caused and wish to assure our community that we will act swiftly in this matter and will take any and all appropriate action. We extend our sincere apologies."