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Swastika and the word ‘Trump’ found written on chalkboard at Brookline school

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The Brookline public schools are investigating after a swastika and the word "Trump" were found written in chalk on a middle school classroom blackboard Wednesday, superintendent Andrew Bott said.

The hateful message was immediately reported by the classroom's teacher to Brian Denitzio, principal of the William H. Lincoln School. "The teacher was in no way the target of this act," Bott said in a statement.

Susan Wolf Ditkoff, chairwoman of the School Committee, said the act was "hurtful to our entire Brookline community."

"While it's important to denounce the words when silence is more comfortable," she wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. "It's even more important to follow words with action."

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On Thursday, Denitzio met with middle school students and staff to "clearly and emphatically explain the gravity of what occurred," and explain how "acts like this can erode the fabric of our school community," according to Bott's statement.

The historical context of the swastika as a symbol of hate and genocide was also provided, the statement said.

"We know that symbols and language of hate can have devastating impacts on individuals and communities," Bott said in the statement. "We must respond to any such incident immediately and decisively."

On Friday, middle schoolers spent time writing and "sharing messages of peace, inclusion and tolerance," the statement said.

The Lincoln incident is the second time in three months Brookline schools have dealt with hateful messages.

In September, racist and homophobic graffiti was discovered on town-owned picnic tables near Brookline High School at Cypress Field.

In his statement, Bott said that Brookline schools strives to ensure that "we live out our core values of inclusion and tolerance."

In September, Brookline High School partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to help create "inclusive school communities," and is planning on extending the partnership into the district's middle grades.

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"It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that we learn from them and that we continue to build practices that support our ideals and core values," Bott said.


Samantha Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross