A Riverhead Middle School student drew a swastika on a blackboard at the school, Interim Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich reported late Monday afternoon.
Pedisich made the announcement in a letter to the community posted on the Riverhead Central School District website.
The school district and Riverhead Police Department are investigating the incident, the interim superintendent wrote.
“The student is being disciplined in accordance with the Code of Character, Conduct and Support, and the district has spoken with the student’s parents,” Pedisich said.
This is the third reported incident involving swastikas on school property in Riverhead since September. On Sept. 22, three swastikas were discovered on desks in a classroom at Riverhead High School. A swastika was discovered on a piece of artwork at the middle school Nov. 17.
“We continue our commitment to condemning this behavior and emphasize that any form of antisemitic or discriminatory symbols, speech or actions are reprehensible and unacceptable in our schools and community,” Pedisich said in the letter.
“Unfortunately, these acts are not just limited to the Riverhead community, as incidents of this nature are occurring across Long Island and throughout the country at elevated rates,” she said.
The interim superintendent said a “school-home partnership for addressing these issues” is important. “This collaboration is crucial to ensure students fully understand the damage these messages of antisemitism cause and to provide students with the support they need to combat hate and bigotry,” she wrote.
“Please speak with your children and convey the seriousness and hurtful nature of discriminatory acts,” she said.
It is also important for parents to emphasize to their children that there will be “serious consequences for those that do engage in this behavior from the school district, and depending on the act, law enforcement,” Pedisich said.
The district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee will establish district-wide programming, events and lessons to promote tolerance and acceptance, she said.
The district will also have Holocaust survivor Marion Lazan visit the middle school in January to speak with students. Lazan was interned at the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen as a child and will discuss her personal experiences with the swastika symbol, antisemitism and bigotry, Pedisich said.
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