During the past week, swastikas were drawn on student desks in three separate schools. Both Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery County Council strongly condemned these incidents.
At Silver Creek Elementary School in Kensington, Principal Tiffany N. Awkard sent an email to parents. “As a No Place for Hate school, we find this behavior to be unacceptable and against the core value we embrace,” she wrote.
Joel Rubin, Chevy Chase Vice Mayor, told MCM, “My initial reaction was just absolute anger.” His middle daughter attends Silver Creek, and he strongly condemned this hate speech. “If kids are using that symbol, they are learning it from somewhere,” he said. “It is happening too often. This kind of garbage is infuriating.”
His oldest daughter, a high school student, rolled her eyes when she learned of the incident at her sister’s school. She viewed it as yet another piece of hate, he said. “It bothers her,” and makes her wonder, “What’s wrong with people? What’s up with all this hate? You people are so stupid,” Rubin said, paraphrasing his daughter.
Hate flyers have been distributed throughout Chevy Chase multiple times, he said. Hate against anyone or any group needs to be met with push back, Rubin said. “We need a persistent push back.” He praised Silver Creek’s principal for being “very clear in her condemnation.”
However, he said, “Clearly much more needs to be done. Everybody has a role to play.”
The swastika was “quickly removed,” Awkard wrote in her message. MCPS, Montgomery County Police and the Office of School Support and Well-Being were all contacted.
Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight and the Board of Education sent out a statement condemning “all acts of antisemitism in any form.”
“More importantly than disciplinary action, however, is what we do in response. As we fight these repeated acts of hte, we must challenge one another to learn and understand what antisemitism, hatred, and racism are and the harm they cause,” they wrote.
School officials called for “honest and forthright conversations,” adding, “As a community, we must speak loudly and together against antisemitism and all acts of hate and racism. We must be inclusive and welcoming of everyone in our diverse and vibrant community. Our differences make us stronger and better and make our community an exciting place to live; there is no room for hate.”
On Sunday, councilmembers issued a statement, “We are once again saddened and disgusted at the displays of hate targeting the Jewish community at three Montgomery County schools. The Council stands in solidarity with our Jewish community, and with our MCPS students and families. We share the values embraced by our schools, school leaders, and Board of Education members, which include zero tolerance for hate and dangerous displays of religious bigotry.”
The statement continued, “We cannot allow schools to become places of fear. We must continue to forcibly speak out against hate and religious bigotry in all forms and continue to educate our youth about the values of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance that we embrace here in Montgomery County.”
Councilmember Will Jawando tweeted, “This is horrible.” He noted, “We are committed as a county to speaking out against antisemitism and all forms of hate. We are better than this.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington also took to Twitter. “No Jewish student should wonder whether the next desk they sit at will have a swastika, or the next restroom they enter will have hateful graffiti about Jews on the walls.”
I am deeply troubled by the swastika found on a desk at Silver Creek MS in Kensington in District 4. My staff and I will be discussing enhancing the curriculum around Antisemitism with @MCPS. Hate has no place here.
— Councilmember Kate Stewart (she/her) (@cmkatestewart) January 21, 2023