A swastika and a curse word were found scrawled inside a Montgomery County elementary school bathroom this week.
It happened in a restroom near fourth and fifth grade classrooms at Bannockburn Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland. In a letter sent home to parents this week, Principal Kate Bradley said it’s unclear how many students saw the symbol, but in response the bathrooms will be checked every hour and students will have to sign out when they leave class to use the restroom.
“We take these things very seriously even at the elementary school level,” said Derek Turner, a spokesman for Montgomery County Public Schools. He acknowledged that it’s likely whoever vandalized the bathroom wasn’t trying to be malicious and didn’t understand what they were doing.
“At grades five, four, even down to kindergarten, kids don’t understand what symbols might mean and the impact they have,” said Turner. “That’s why this has to be as much of an awareness opportunity … as a learning opportunity for our students, that symbols have an impact and can mean things to people. It can hurt them.”
The incident won’t necessarily be addressed in any special manner, but it’ll likely become an example used in a program that’s already part of the curriculum at Bannockburn Elementary.
“Embedded in our curriculum are concepts around equity and respect,” Turner said. “They’re really dealing with a program around character traits, respect, and honesty and kindness. That’s what builds good character and that’s what helps them understand that symbols like this have a deeper meaning and can really hurt their classmates.”