Swastikas found drawn at Wellesley Middle School in boys’ bathroom

Wellelsey Public School officials today informed the community that 2 swastikas were found drawn on the wall of the boys’ bathroom at Wellesley Middle School and that the incident is under investigation.

This from Wellesley Middle School principal Mark Ito in a letter to the WMS community:

As we transition into summer, I know that many of you are looking forward to the end of our school year. There are many reasons to celebrate, as the completion of one grade marks the beginning of the next. I want to thank everyone in the community who has helped to create a strong school environment for our children.

At the same time, our school continues to work with students, in these final weeks, on respectful conduct and behavior. Recently, two (approximately) 3”x 3” swastikas were drawn in ballpoint pen in one of the boys’ bathrooms. Although we continue to investigate, any help from the community of known leads would be appreciated. Additionally, our administration has been faced with cases where students are being insensitive to issues related to race and anti-Semitic actions. Namely, these actions are in the form of unacceptable comments that are claimed by students to be “jokes.” Although we understand where middle school students are in their adolescent development, we also know that values and actions are formed throughout a child’s life, and as adults, we need to react to harmful behaviors when they happen. Comments are made by both students outside and within their own culture. Simply stated, there is no place for these behaviors in our school.

We are working with our community partners in making sure that coordinated, appropriate consequences and learning happens, and that the behavior stops. It is in the school environment where we hope to cultivate empathic and sensitive human beings who will live within our diverse world. When left unchecked, it is these behaviors that erode the values of our school and make our community feel less safe to all those here.

As the leader of this school, I need to express how we do not condone these actions, and how we will respond to any act that goes against our values of a “caring and cooperative community” and a “respect for human differences.” Our administration works hard to ensure that students learn through appropriate responses to these behaviors. Earlier today, I messaged my thoughts to our students, in support of our values. Our goal is to ensure that students learn to show a respect for diversity in our school. We hope as parents and guardians that you will take the time to speak to your children about these values, and how they play out in the daily actions they exhibit. I am deeply saddened that these acts have happened in our school community, and I vow to stop them. Respectfully, Mark Ito Principal, Wellesley Middle School

Superintendent Lussier’s words on the matter:

Dear Members of the WPS Community,

Earlier today, WMS Principal Mark Ito shared the attached message with the Middle School Community. Due to its content, I think this is an important message to share with our entire district. The fact that swastikas were found drawn in a school bathroom on Friday is troubling on its own.  This is even more concerning as it comes amid growing concern of reported anti-Semitic student behaviors at WMS. Let me be very clear that language and actions grounded in hate are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Wellesley Public Schools

As has been evidenced on other fronts this year, we have work to do as a district and community to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students and staff.  Thank you for your help in reinforcing these important messages with our students.

Not the first time this has happened

Unfortunately, this incident has precedent in town.

Swastika found at Wellesley HS in boys’ bathroom, 2017

Wellesley HS investigates swastika etched onto computer, 2016

Wellesley parks vandalized, 2017