COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Jewish leaders are demanding action after students at Pope High School discovered swastikas and a reference to Hitler.
The racist graffiti was written on a bathroom wall at the school.
“This is a hate crime. It should’ve been denounced. The email that came out from administration barely even touched on it,” said Calanit Amir, a parent of two Pope High School students. “That’s not a stupid prank. This is a hate crime. This is a rise in antisemitism. It is here. It is prevalent.”
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Last Friday, Pope principal Tom Flugum told families:
Several students have defaced our beautiful school with hateful graffiti and also damaged our facilities. As we investigate, I want to assure you that we will hold those responsible accountable to our district policies and applicable state laws.
Disturbing acts like what occurred this week have no place in our district or at our school and will not be tolerated.
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Rabbi Larry Sernovitz at Temple Kol Emeth believes administrators should’ve taken a tough stance.
“In our public-school institutions, we need to come down strong on this, and we need to say this is only not acceptable, but this is a hate crime. That’s what the district’s letter did not read,” said Sernovitz.
Sernovitz met with Flugum before the letter went out. He also met with Pope students on campus.
Sernovitz told Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose it was a student who first told him about the racist images last Thursday.
“Heil Hitler is a sign in Nazi Germany that it was time to exterminate the Jews,” said Sernovitz. “There needs to be some sensitivity training. We need to help them understand why this was wrong, because even it was students who didn’t understand the gravity of it, they learned it from somewhere.”
The southern division of the Anti-Defamation League is also demanding action.
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“The school and the district need to name the hate and name the pain and address it. They need to make a commitment to anti-bias education,” said Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman. “It is the school and district’s responsibility to address this head on, and to make sure students understand and learn from this issue.”
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