Damascus High Principal Sends Letter on Racism
“I want to be clear with our students and families — these actions will not be tolerated. I expect students to show respect for one another and for all members of our school community,” wrote the principal, Jennifer Webster.
In an interview, Webster said a couple of instances in the last week sparked the letter. She didn’t offer specifics.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said students have gotten caught violating the school system’s rules concerning mutual respect and they have faced consequences.
“Schools are finding ways to have deeper conversations [about racism] based on the needs of their school community,” Onijala said.
Webster, who has been at Damascus High for four years, wrote that students have drawn swastikas on school property and on papers.
“This is also an opportunity for us to engage one another about what respect and tolerance look like. Being able to relate to people who have had different experiences, see others for their unique qualities, and learn from those who have different opinions than us are all important attributes we want to model and foster in our students,” she wrote.
She asked students, staff and parents to work with one another on fostering an inclusive school culture.
Damascus High has about 57 percent white students, about 20 percent Hispanic, 15 percent African American, and the rest Asian or multiple, Webster said in an interview.
“We have the whole gamut of viewpoints,” she said.
For months, the county has endured hate-related graffiti with swastikas spray-painted in parks and drawn in school restrooms. In November, a swastika was spray-painted on the front door of a supporter of President Donald Trump.
Last month, an anti-Semitic note was left under a windshield wiper for a Jewish family that had posted a “Black Lives Matter” banner outside their home.
“We’ve not necessarily had more incidents, but it’s definitely elevated the conversation,” Webster said.