Parents at an elementary school in Maplewood, New Jersey are upset after students in a fifth grade class put on a mock slave auction as part of a unit on colonization. Parents say a black student was "put on the block for sale" by her white classmates for the project.

The incident took place last week at the Jefferson School in Maplewood; the assignment was reportedly spearheaded by a substitute teacher, while the classroom teacher was on medical leave. The students were learning about the Triangular Slave Trade when a smaller group of students apparently decided to hold the mock auction. They asked classmates to participate in the auction, and filmed it as part of the assignment.

When parents caught wind, some were infuriated. "There was a sale of a black child by white children in the classroom," parent Tracey Jarmon-Woods told CBS 2. "If you’re demoralized — sold on a block in 2017 — it may affect you the rest of your life." In an interview with ABC 7, Jarmon-Woods said, "When we're dealing with the holocaust we would never put Jewish kids in two lines and say you go to the left, you go to the right as an assignment." Another parent told argued, "Anything that could hurt a kid should be avoided."

The incident occurred one week after fifth grade students at a different elementary school in the same district put up posters advertising a slave auction. That school apologized after a similar uproar.

Officials at the Jefferson School sent a letter to parents addressing the auction. "When we had the opportunity to view the full video last week, we were concerned to see how lightly students treated the topic. The jovial nature of the video suggests that either there is a lack of understanding about the true barbarity of a slave auction, or a lack of awareness of how treating this topic comically is offensive," the letter read. "We believe that additional work remains to help our students consider how their actions can have a negative impact on others, even if unintended, how joking about slavery is disrespectful to all Americans, especially to the African American community, and that certain matters should be treated with a degree of heightened sensitivity."