Students allegedly told to perform murder in puppet show; Texas school district investigating

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A Texas school district says it is investigating a substitute teacher who allegedly instructed students to act out a murder during a puppet show.

Speaking with Nexstar’s KXAN, the Hays Consolidated Independent School District said the long-term substitute, working as a theater arts teacher at Johnson High School in Buda, outside of Austin, has been suspended pending an investigation by the campus.

“Students report that the substitute assigned them to perform a puppet show in which at least one puppet had to be murdered,” the school district said in a statement. “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.”

Hays CISD said if this incident did happen, assigning or allowing this type of performance would be disturbing and unacceptable conduct.

Young brother and sister dead, several hurt after vehicle crashes into Michigan birthday party

“The school and the district apologize to the students and their parents for any distress this has caused and pledges to ensure that it does not happen again,” the statement added.

According to the district, the substitute may be asked not to return to its schools based on the investigation, and, if warranted, “appropriate reports and referrals would be made to law enforcement and the Texas Education Agency educator misconduct portal.”

‘I’m shocked’

A parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said their daughter was in that class.

“I am floored. I am angry. I’m shocked. There’s no lesson here. This is not okay. These are kids. It’s harmful,” the parent said, adding that their daughter was so upset that she called them immediately.

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

Allegedly, the teacher told students if they didn’t do it, they would get a zero for the assignment.

“They did it one time. He said, ‘It wasn’t violent enough,’ and made them do it again,” according to the parent.

15 injured after tram crash at Universal Studios theme park: LA officials

The district said it is also reviewing other potential classroom management concerns regarding the teacher, who was hired in January 2024.

“She has told me in the past that it’s not the first time that this particular substitute teacher does something like this,” the parent said. “There have been times other times when he wants to reenact or go through violent situations.”

The parent said they went to the school and spoke with the assistant principal after getting that call from their daughter.

“She agreed it was not okay. It was unacceptable. It was not part of the lesson plan that they ever agreed to,” the parent added. “He was not given that plan, so he did it on his own. She assured me that it was not okay.”

Ultimately, this parent said they are grateful for how the district responded.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to PIX11.