According to a message sent out to Ashland High School students and parents, staff were holding a live assembly over Zoom for the 10th grade students. While the presenter was sharing their screen, an attendee used Zoom’s “annotate” feature to draw a swastika and write “Heil Hitler” on the shared image before the host could react.
“These actions are clear examples of hate speech as defined in the new Oregon resolution ‘All Students Belong’ which was just adopted by our school board in their meeting earlier this week. We are horrified and deeply regret that this incident happened,” wrote AHS principal Benjamin Bell.
Bell indicated that the incident is still under investigation, and any students found responsible will be disciplined in accordance with school policy — one that now explicitly bans hate symbols, including swastikas, under the All Students Belong resolution — and educated on why such messages are “harmful and always inappropriate.”
“We acknowledge that this image inflicts hurt and discomfort, and causes students and staff to feel unsafe. Hate symbols have no place in our schools or community,” Bell said. “The assembly was meant to be a positive school spirit activity. Our Leadership class spent a great deal of time preparing it and setting it up. It was designed to be a time for connection during this year when so many have felt isolated. It is very unfortunate that someone took this time to spread such a hateful message.”
If future AHS assemblies take place over Zoom, Bell said that staff would take extra security precautions to ensure that something like this won’t happen again. Bell indicated that the school’s expectations about behavior were made clear prior to the assembly, and that practice will continue.
“At AHS, we welcome ALL STUDENTS in our community and will continue to strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. We will continue to respond to incidents like this quickly,” Bell said.