Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Muslim Student Vandalizes Jewish Teacher’s Desk with Swastikas at New York High School

The effects of a war a world away are being seen here at home.

On Monday, 2 On Your Side obtained a police report confirming an antisemitic incident taking place at Buffalo Public Schools’ Hutchinson Central Technical High School in November.

The police report said that on Nov. 9, a Muslim student drew swastikas and the Star of David on a desk in a Jewish teacher’s classroom.

The student told investigators that he was aware of the ongoing war in the Middle East but claimed to be unaware of the meaning of the symbols.

Buffalo Public Schools suspended the student following the incident and denounced the act.

Back in October, 2 On Your Side sat down with Buffalo Teachers Federation President Rich Nigro about a string of violent incidents being committed by students towards teachers following a video we obtained showing a Burgard High School student assaulting a teacher.

The teachers’ union president said then that they were working with the district to address student-on-teacher violence, but that more still needed to be done.

“The optics of it needs to be if you do something like this, this is, without question, definitely wrong and there needs to be immediate consequences,” he said. “Nobody should feel like they have to look over their shoulder when they’re going to work.”

Nigro was unable to sit down for an additional interview Monday due to a scheduling conflict but said over the phone that they are hoping to begin a series of safety meetings with the district next month where they plan to discuss reviewing the code of conduct and more ways to prevent violence and harassment toward teachers.

Here is the full statement from Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tonja M. Williams:

“Buffalo Public Schools unequivocally denounces this antisemitism and all negative racial or cultural acts against others. Upon learning of the incident, the school took swift action to hold the student accountable for this hateful conduct. The leadership at Hutchinson Technical High School, which has a very diverse population of students and staff, responded swiftly to remove a swastika found on a student’s desk. The swastika has been a long-standing symbol of antisemitism and hate. It has no place in any of our learning or district communities. We embrace inclusiveness, and our diversity is viewed as an asset. 

Hateful and harmful, racially motivated actions will not be tolerated in any of our schools. As the most diverse school district in Western New York, this unfortunate situation was used to serve as an opportunity to teach the student and the student’s family about the history that a swastika evokes. 

I am thankful that in a district with students from more than 100 countries, this is the first time we have had such a hateful act since we strengthened the district’s code of conduct in August. The BPS code of conduct addresses this kind of infraction. 

The district’s Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives (CLRI) has been deployed to provide developmentally appropriate curriculum materials to teachers to ensure that instruction and support are provided to all of our students. This department intentionally focuses on schools and offices creating cultures of inclusion and equitable educational experiences for all. The CLRI team provides our administrators, teachers, and support staff with professional development to help them teach tolerance and inclusion in their classrooms. For instance, at Lafayette International PS 207, where the student body is comprised of students who are new to the country and many of them are Muslim, we collaborate closely with Jewish Family Services to provide Cultural Resource Brokers and the Anne Frank Project, a story- and drama-based learning organization that reinforces academic and socio-emotional learning through themes of social justice and self-identity. The Anne Frank Project also works on Saturdays with Our Story Project students at Hutch Tech PS 304, Burgard PS 301, Research Laboratory PS 366, City Honors PS 195, and MST PS 197, which includes story-based learning related to fairness, equity, and social justice. Students will be performing a dramatic interpretation of what they learned at our districtwide Urban Forum professional development conference in February.  

I am proud of the fact that each of our BPS schools also have Guardians of Equity position that works in the school to guarantee that all educational resources and materials are inclusive and teach tolerance for all.

While the student returned to school, the school’s Student Support Team, district crisis team, and a school administrator met with the student and the student’s family to bring sensitivity to this harm. As part of the student’s disciplinary due process hearing, the student and his family were also given information on community resources for counseling and support. The class schedule was modified to provide some needed space for the student and teacher to heal while continued interventions are being provided. 

It is our expectation that as we continue to work with the student, a restorative meeting will be facilitated by the CRLI and the district’s Crisis Intervention and Prevention staff for the student and the teacher.

Finally, New York State Education Department-approved educational resources were distributed to every school, which include lesson plans by grade level, other culturally inclusive materials, and instructional circle prompts for teachers to use with their students.”

Source: https://www.wgrz.com/article/news/local/antisemitic-incident-reported-at-hutchinson-tech/71-f380e5bd-9b69-4bd2-9fea-43ac332dae0e