VIDEO: TX Teacher Assigns Mass Shooting Puppet Show

Moe & Gene Johnson High School | Image by KXAN

A substitute theater teacher in Texas has been suspended and will not be invited back to work after students say they were made to do a puppet show performance depicting a mass shooting.

The substitute from Johnson High School in Buda, part of Hays Consolidated Independent School District (Hays CISD), reportedly tasked students with performing a puppet show in which at least one puppet had to be murdered.

It is unclear whether the specific assignment included a mass shooting in the puppet show or if the scene was created to fit the assignment’s parameters. The district’s Human Resources Department met with the substitute on Monday to discuss the specifics of the assignment. However, details remain unclear.

“I am floored. I am angry. I’m shocked. There was killing involved. There was dying involved with these puppets. Some kind of puppet reenactment,” a parent of a student in the class reportedly told KXAN. The news station altered the parent’s voice at the parent’s request so that the parent could not be identified.

“She was not okay with that. She was upset. She called me, telling me that their theater teacher was telling them that they were going to have to reenact a violent school shooting where they had to actually pretend to die. You don’t have students — 16, 17-year-old students reenact something they’re truly afraid of.”

The students were allegedly told they would receive a zero for the assignment if they did not participate.

The parent said the students gave their performance once, and the substitute said it was not violent enough, so they were made to do it again.

On April 19, Hays CISD issued a news release, which read in part:

“Students report that the substitute assigned them to perform a puppet show in which at least one puppet had to be murdered. Additionally, one group of students reports that their performance would have involved a mass shooting, though it is not clear if that was the specific assignment or a scene created to meet the parameters of the assignment. Either way, assigning or allowing this type of performance, if proved to have occurred, would be disturbing and unacceptable conduct for an educator in Hays CISD.”

The district said that the teacher, who had been hired in January, had been suspended and removed from the campus following student concerns about the assignment.

In an update Monday to the news release, Hays CISD stated:

“The district’s Human Resources Department met with the substitute Monday following the late Friday afternoon suspension of the substitute. The investigation has not been able to determine which of the conflicting accounts of the assignment is correct, whether it was for puppets to be murdered or be part of a death scene similar to a Shakespearian play. One group of students did perform a brief scene involving a mass shooting.

“While the district has determined there was no nefarious intent on the part of the substitute, not providing proper parameters, correcting, intervening to prevent, or interrupting that performance was improper and not acceptable. Accordingly, the substitute teacher will not be invited back to work in Hays CISD.

“The district maintains its apology to students and parents in the original statement but does not believe any other action is warranted regarding the substitute except that he no longer be assigned to any jobs in the district.”

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