School officials are investigating swastikas discovered on two student desks at a Rockville, Md., middle school, according to a letter sent home to parents Wednesday.
The incident March 3 at Julius West Middle followed another involving anti-Semitic text messages a day earlier at Winston Churchill High School, among the most recent in a string of hate-based acts in suburban Montgomery County in recent months.
The swastikas were found on classroom desks shortly after a lesson on diversity in the world that included examples of hate speech, said the letter to parents, written by principal Craig W. Staton.
“I want to assure the community that we at Julius West Middle School take matters of intolerance to others very seriously,” he wrote. “The desks were immediately cleaned and the teacher of that classroom spoke to the students about the importance of being respectful and tolerant of all.”
Staton said he also conveyed a similar message to the larger student body, reminding students “how fortunate we are to be in a school that is rich in diversity and how necessary it is for us to embrace and appreciate cultural differences.”
His letter came during the same week when school officials reported that a student at Churchill High School in Potomac received anti-Semitic text messagesthrough an app that uses fake phone numbers.
“We view this as a hate-based action and have reported it to the Montgomery County Police Department,” Churchill principal Joan Benz said in an email sent to members of the school community.
Benz said school officials also are investigating and that students found to be involved would be disciplined. “Behavior like this is unacceptable,” she wrote.
Other school systems have confronted similar issues. Last week, administrators at School Without Walls High School in the District reported “inappropriate language” and a swastika drawn on the wall of a boy’s restroom.