Deportation-themed board game at middle school upsets student, parent in Oceanside
An Oceanside parent said she is concerned that her 12-year-old son’s classmates designed a deportation-themed board game for a school assignment — and that her son’s teacher didn’t say that it was inappropriate or offensive.
Jake Hull, a student at Cesar Chavez Middle School in the Oceanside School District, said he was given a group assignment by his career class teacher to design a board game.
According to Jake, his teacher approved the group’s board game theme of “border crossing” before they designed the game.
“I said, ‘We should do something like Mario Kart,’” Jake said. “I don’t think we should do this.”
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.” 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.
Roughly three-quarters of students at Cesar Chavez Middle School are Hispanic or Latino, according to the California Department of Education. According to Jake, he and one other member of the group are white, and one other member is Hispanic.
Jake said his group submitted their completed assignment to their teacher earlier this month. He said he got it back on Thursday without hearing a word from his teacher about the game’s content.
Jake said he didn’t like the board game idea his other group members had.
“I thought it was racist,” he said.
In a statement, Oceanside schools Supt. Julie Vitale said 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.”
Vitale’s 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, said 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 said.
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