Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced on Friday a set of initiatives to ensure that the Newton public school system provides a “welcoming environment” for all, following a recent spate of anti-Semitic incidents in its schools.
The city will begin “implementing programs to strengthen protocols, provide training for administrators on how to respond to hateful incidents, and engage and educate students on maintaining our community values at all times,” according to a statement released by the mayor’s office.
The city has brought on attorney Richard W. Cole, a civil rights and Safe Schools consultant, to work alongside Warren and Newton Schools Superintendent David Fleishman.
In an interview, Warren said Cole will work with administrators, students, and faculty to make sure everybody feels comfortable in Newton schools.
“We felt very strongly in the city and the district that we wanted to re-emphasize our community values moving forward, welcoming people from all communities and backgrounds,” he said. “We also believe it’s incredibly important to engage the students because they will help us find solutions to make Newton a more welcoming city.”
The measures follow a call by the Anti-Defamation League to investigate recent incidents in Newton public schools.
Three anti-Semitic graffiti messages were reported this week at Newton North High School following a basketball game March 11, at which students from rival school Catholic Memorial chanted “You killed Jesus” at the Newton North student section. Anti-Semitic graffiti was also found at Newton North in December, and on three occasions at F.A. Day Middle School since October.
Plus, four racist questions were submitted through an online site as the Black Leadership Advisory Club at Newton North prepared for Black Culture Day.
The mayor said he intends to host a community discussion at April 7 at City Hall.
Reenat Sinay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bailey Putnam contributed to this story.