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Swastikas were discovered carved into a tree on the John Jay High School campus yesterday afternoon, just three weeks after a swastika was found on the playground of Lewisboro Elementary School.
Lewisboro Police were immediately contacted and an investigation has begun by both the police and the high school administration. The State and Lewisboro Police have apprehended three students in conjunction with the graffiti at Lewisboro Elementary.
“As a District, we are saddened and angered by the appearance of symbols of hatred in our community,” said Katonah Lewisboro Superintendent Andrew Selesnick. “When events such as these occur, it is important first and foremost to shine a light immediately on what has occurred, to name it, and to condemn it.”
Selesnick said the high school principal called students and staff together Friday morning to convey that same message, to assure that such behavior is not, and never will be, acceptable in the community, and to begin thinking about the most productive ways to move forward.
“As an educational institution, we are always working to teach our students the lessons of history. We are always working to convey the expectation and the need for acceptance, compassion, and respect,” Selesnick said. “The events of the last few weeks cause us to reflect on where and how we can strengthen the work we are already doing. We have reached out to organizations outside the school because this work does not and should not belong to the schools alone. It is critical that we commit ourselves to educating and raising children as a community. These events serve as a reminder of the importance of our partnership.”
Superintendent Selesnick declined to name the students apprehended in the first swastika incident, citing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA prohibits the release of student records, including disciplinary records, without the consent of the student’s parent. He added, however, that the district’s Code of Conduct spells out a range of consequences up to suspension from school.
“We are entrusted with the community’s children, and we take that responsibility seriously. Children are here to learn and sometimes their most challenging lessons occur outside the classroom,” Selesnick said.