School officials are investigating anti-Semitic graffiti that was found at Watertown Middle School, and have been holding conversations with students about the incident. This is the second such incident in the district this year.
Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee about the incident at Monday’s meeting. A swastika was found in a boys bathroom at the middle school, Galdston said. It was removed promptly after being discovered.
“This offensive action is an affront to our core values as a District and it particularly upsetting as this coincides with the Jewish festival of Hanukkah,” Galdston said in a letter to the community. “We take hateful actions, words, and deeds such as this very seriously, and will not tolerate the anti-Semitism that this represents within our schools.”
Earlier this year, an anti-Semitic symbol was discovered at Cunniff Elementary School, Galdston said.
This week, students at Watertown Middle School discussed the incident, and what it represents, during their advisory blocks about during their advisory blocks.
WMS Principal Donna Martin, Assistant Principal Jason DelPorto, and School Resource Officer Miguel Colon conducted an investigation but have not yet been able determine who was responsible for the act.
Galdston stressed that the act “violates our core values of Equity and Community, specifically as described below:
- Equity — We ensure access to a welcoming and safe environment for all students, parents, and families.
- Community — We celebrate the contributions of each individual to our inclusive, diverse community.
Galdston encouraged parents to discuss the incident with their children.
“Please take this opportunity to speak with your children at home to reinforce that the Watertown Public School Community is a caring community that wants all of our children to feel safe and joyful when coming to school and that this incident is a violation of our core values,” Galdston said.
After the incident at Cunniff, school officials reached out to the Anti-Defamation League, as well as the Facing History and Ourselves organization.
“We will be working with Facing History and Ourselves as the Middle School currently utilizes their curriculum and the work that has been done at the Cunniff in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves has been well received,” Galdston wrote.
The district has also formed an Anti-Bias Coalition, which will meet on Dec. 17, “to continue a broad discussion of ways to reduce the likelihood of future events such as this happening in our school community,” Galdston said.
Anyone interested in being part of the Anti-Bias Coalition, please send an email to my the Superintendent’s Administrative Assistant, Renee Ruggiero, at firstname.lastname@example.org.