Anti-Semitism, COVID-19 hot button issues at Cobb school board meeting

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Parents and community leaders in Cobb County came together to speak out against recent anti-Semitic acts at two schools, and the continuing issue of COVID-19 precautions.

Leaders of the Jewish community spoke Thursday at a school board meeting pushing for an acknowledgement and action in light of anti-Semitic hate symbols, including swastikas, that were found in Cobb County high school bathrooms recently.

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The District confirmed Thursday night that the students involved in plastering hateful anti-Semitic messages on the walls have been identified.

The superintendent told the crowd that the district will not tolerate hate, and that those responsible are now facing disciplinary charges.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden was at the meeting Thursday night. Many who spoke say they still don’t think the District is doing enough to tackle the problem.

“My parents didn’t even want me speaking at the meeting tonight because they are worried about a hate crime being committed against me or my family because of it,” said Lassiter High School sophomore Hannah Levy.

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Jewish parents, students and local rabbis all delivered a powerful message criticizing the District.

“I don’t feel safe wearing my Star of David necklace there anymore,” Levy said. “I’ve been getting comments for years, but it’s grown recently and it’s gotten to a point where it’s not okay anymore.”

Dozens of protesters were gathered outside of District headquarters just 90 minutes before the meeting.

Community members of varying faiths joined together to show their support.

“I’m not Jewish, but they’re my brothers and sisters,” Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Marietta Pastor Dave Helfrich told Seiden. “And what we need in this world is to understand that it’s not a matter of us versus them. It’s a matter of how we become a we.”

The school board is working with local rabbis on a plan of action that will be made public at a later date.

Parents threaten federal lawsuit over COVID-19 precautions

Channel 2′s Christian Jennings learned there was a work session in the afternoon ahead of a board meeting Thursday night.

At Thursday’s work session, most of the conversation revolved around COVID-19 precautions, as well as recent acts of anti-Semitism in two school bathrooms.

Speaker after speaker took the podium, with one woman asking board members point blank if they believe they are qualified for their jobs.

Jennings also talked with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing four families in Cobb County schools with medical disabilities that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19 complications. The SPLC sent a letter to the district Thursday demanding officials immediately implement COVID-19 safety protocols like mask requirements.

They plan to file a federal lawsuit if the district doesn’t take action.

Many parents are continuing to push for mandatory masks.

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“My middle child caught COVID-19 at school orientation,” Stacy Efrat said. “It spread through our whole house, so the last two months have really been a disaster for our family. My take is we should be following all CDC guidelines and that includes masking.”