OCEANSIDE — A group of Oceanside middle school students designed a deportation-themed board game for a school assignment and the students’ teacher returned the graded assignment without comment, it was reported today.
Jake Hull, a 12-year-old student at Cesar Chavez Middle School in the Oceanside School District, told the San Diego Union-Tribune he was given a group assignment by his career class teacher to design a board game.
His teacher approved the group’s board game theme of “border crossing” before the students designed the game, Jake told the Union-Tribune.
The game Jake’s group came up with is called “Deportation Time.” The goal is to be the first player “to cross the border to the USA and reach the American flag,” according to the Union-Tribune.
In the game, it is “Mandatory” that you go to the “Bomb Shop” to blow up a wall to cross the border.
Players who roll a 2 can choose to deport another player back to the start. Players are penalized if they land on the “Lamigra caught you go back to checkpoint” space or the “You’ve been taken into custody skip 3 turns” space.
Jake told the Union-Tribune that he didn’t like the board game idea his other group members had.
“I thought it was racist,” he told the newspaper.
Roughly three-quarters of students at Cesar Chavez Middle School are Hispanic or Latino, according to the California Department of Education. Jake and one other group member are white and one other member is Hispanic, he told the newspaper.
The group submitted their completed assignment to their teacher earlier this month and got it back on Thursday without hearing a word from the teacher about the game’s content, according to the Union-Tribune.
Oceanside Superintendent Julie Vitale said in a statement that the school principal has contacted the families of the four students in the group.
“While their intention may have been to leverage a current event, we believe it is our responsibility as educators to help them understand that the theme is potentially painful and hurtful to many people,” Vitale said in a statement. “We will be using this opportunity to help the students learn that words must be measured very carefully for unintended consequences — an important life lesson.”
The statement did not address the role or involvement of the teacher or whether the school or district addressed the issue with the teacher.
Danielle Watkins, Jake’s mother, told the Union-Tribune that her biggest problem was the fact that the teacher knew about the game but didn’t immediately stop and address the game’s offensiveness with the students.
“The adult in the situation has the chance to mold minds for the better and just basically kind of dropped the ball completely,” she told the newspaper.