Marblehead school officials are condemning what Interim Superintendent Theresa McGuinness called the “disturbing and hateful” act of a picture of a swastika placed on the middle school library wall that students alerted teachers to on Thursday morning.
McGuinness read a statement where she said she wanted to “unequivocally and publicly condemn this act and reaffirm our commitment as being an anti-racist school district.”
“The swastika, as we know, is a symbol of pure hate,” she said at Thursday night’s School Committee meeting. “There is no excuse for any ignorance around that. We know that our most important job as leaders and educators is to provide a safe and secure environment where our students are free to be, they are free to learn and they are free to engage with each other in their education while maintaining a strong sense of their own identity and their belonging.”
She said the district pledges to call out incidents of hate and address them whenever they happen.
“I want to be clear that hate has no home in Marblehead Public Schools,” she said. “We do need to work together on this as a community to strengthen what’s happening. So I am asking parents and their families to talk with your children about these types of acts to help us help them.”
She also read a letter from Veterans Middle School Principal Matthew Fox to the school community in which he said the school is conducting historical education with students to bring home the hateful history of the symbol and the holocaust, and the “pure hate and antisemitism that the swastika portrays.”
Fox said the students who discovered the swastika reported it to their teachers, the swastika was immediately removed and the police were notified. He said the school is also conducting its own investigation to determine who is responsible for the symbol being placed there.
“Here at Marblehead Veterans Middle School we have truly invested in ensuring that when students leave our campus and head to the high school they truly understand the holocaust and the impact that it still has on the world today,” the principal said in his letter to the community. “I would like to thank the students who reported the graffiti to the teacher as soon as they found it and I implore you to speak with your children about this incident to ensure that they fully grasp the hateful meaning of this symbol.”
School Committee Chair Sarah Fox said that “hate of any kind has no place anywhere” and “it’s not just in Marblehead, it’s not just in our schools, it’s anywhere.”
“It cannot be tolerated,” she said. ” It cannot be normalized. It cannot be not talked about. … There is zero room for any type of tolerance on this.”