Administrators at an Arlington middle school are planning multiple events to train students on how to respond to “hateful acts” after two swastikas were found at the school.
The swastikas at the public Ottoson Middle School were found in a boys’ bathroom and in a “storage passage on a piece of sheetrock,” below the word “save,” Dr. Eileen Woods, the interim principal, said in e-mails earlier this week to students and parents.
“Both symbols of hate . . . are not how we treat one another in our community,” Woods wrote.
School administrators are investigating the incident to determine who is responsible for scrawling the Nazi symbol on school property. Arlington police are involved in the investigation, and the Arlington Human Rights Commission was also notified, Woods wrote.
Students and community members are asked to come forward with any information they may have.
“We will work hard to make sure who ever is writing these hate words are discovered,” she said.
Teachers are discussing the incident in their classes, and Rabbi Avi Bukiet of the Center for Jewish Life in Arlington and Belmont will address students during morning announcements Friday, according to Woods.
An a capella group will also address students about the incident on Feb. 26. The next day, students in the school’s “Peer Leader Group” will meet with Woods and Carlos Hoyt, the school’s cultural proficiency consultant, to discuss “ways we can empower our students to be upstanders,” Woods said.
Woods and Hoyt will also speak with students in each grade level on March 1.
Woods said that she was committed to making Ottoson “a safe and inclusive school community.” 50 students have already been trained in an anti-bias program conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, she wrote.
“You are great students who continue to achieve in amazing ways but we can not tolerate this behavior and it needs to stop!” Woods wrote.
Woods also urged parents to speak with their children about intolerance, by asking them questions such as “Why do you think these actions occur?” and “ Are there ways to protest peacefully these actions towards targeted people in our community?”
Jacob Carozza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.