Ahead of Presidents Day weekend, Montgomery County schools Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight urged the Maryland community to work together to combat a rise in antisemitic acts at schools.
Since the letter was sent out, nine more incidents have been reported.
“This is our third day back to school, and to have nine incidents happen within our school system says that this is absolutely unacceptable,” McKnight said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
McKnight said the latest acts included the drawing of swastikas and the sharing of images of the symbol. She also said the reports came in from four schools, including elementary, middle and high schools.
The superintendent said the new acts have the school system changing its response to these incidents, and it will require more involvement from the parents of students who commit such acts.
“Moving forward, as we engage with our students in our school system, and we have acts of antisemitism and acts (of) hate and bias for any group, we are going to be requesting that our parents come in and be a part of the resolution for that child in the school,” McKnight said.
“If there is a student who is learning, recovering, developing in this area, we one want there to be accountability, but also restoration.”
The acts will also now become part of a student’s school file. McKnight said school staff will have forms to fill out that will include their name, grade level and details about the act they are accused of committing.
McKnight said the new approach is necessary because the school system won’t be able to “suspend” its way out of the problem. McKnight said the response also needs long-term solutions, which include talking in class about acts of hate and their impact on others.
“While we’re here today talking about antisemitic attacks, we have a number of incidents that occur, impacting many other communities of color,” McKnight said. “Our students are impacted every single time an incident occurs.”
Expanded professional learning, according to McKnight, is also being made available to staff members, so they can help students better understand cultural sensitivities.