IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A middle school is under fire after a they conducted an anti-discrimination exercise.
A select group of students at Taylorview Junior High were asked if they wanted to participate in the exercise. Students that agreed were given a red paper dot to wear around their necks for the first half of the day. Students without these red dots were not aware of the exercise.
Red dot students were instructed to go to their classes like normal, the only difference is that the teachers would treat them differently. These selected students, like Alayna Jon, were put in scenarios where the teacher would accuse them of cheating, or isolate them from other students for some reason or another, all without her fellow classmates knowing that it was all a ruse.
"I got little notes from my friends that said, 'Alayna, this is ridiculous, we know you didn't do anything wrong," said Alayna.
Her classmates even started a protest and began to cut out their own red dots to stand up against this treatment, an act the school said they are proud of.
"We know the students learned a lesson because they didn't tolerate it, they have a better understanding of social justice," said English teacher and exercise leader Byron Heath.
The school held a informal assembly after lunch to meet with the team involved to explain to student that none of these discriminatory actions were real. The school said students seemed to respond well after the explanation, but not everyone was happy with this hands on lesson. Several parents called the school to complain.
Daniel Hammon said his daughter was one of the students who decided to start a petition before realizing it was all an experiment. But Hammon said that even though it wasn't real, it still affected his daughter in a negative way.
"It should have been everyone knowing about it. As long as everyone knew what was going on, then everyone would have understood the purpose," he said.
School administration said they had success with the exercise years before, but this time students were more emotional when witnessing the staged discrimination. They said the whole point was to get students to react exactly the way they did. Students will have a better understanding of social injustice throughout history, as teachers begin teaching about the Holocaust, slavery, and bullying. They said next time they will notify parents before the exercise is carried out.