Police identify source of anti-Semitic note

Wilton police have identified the individual responsible for creating the “Jews will burn” note found on a Jewish sixth grader’s locker on Oct. 26.

According to the school district’s Nov. 3 News From the Schools newsletter, the Wilton Police Department informed Superintendent Kevin Smith of the investigation’s conclusion “just before” the second parent meeting at Middlebrook School the evening of Thursday, Nov. 2.

“It goes without saying that we will not be disclosing the identity of the individual," said Smith, "but we will certainly be working with the family and relying on our policies for guidance."

Smith added that he is "grateful to the many clergy and community leaders who were present and have taken a strong stand with our school community to reinforce the message that hate has no place in Wilton.”

On Monday, Nov. 13, Smith and First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice plan to meet with clergy and town officials “to plan a broader community response to these recent incidents,” according to the district’s newsletter.

Smith said he’s also asked each school principal to “commit to writing a response plan for each school that will capitalize on our current efforts and further raise awareness about bias and intolerance.”

School initiatives

The district is also partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to pursue several initiatives, including programs at Middlebrook and Wilton High School, a new club at Middlebrook, new curriculum and anti-bias training for instructional staff.

The ADL’s Step UP! program for Middle School will be introduced to Middlebrook School in order to help students “understand the different roles people play in bullying situations, the dynamics of typical incidents of bias and the range of responses available to them,” according to the district’s newsletter. Smith said the hope is to run the program next month.

The district also plans to bring ADL’s Names Can Really Hurt Us program — a “student-centered assembly program that teaches students respect for differences in a large-scale setting” — to the high school next fall. Smith said this year will be used to “plan and train student leaders at Wilton High School.”

District Safe School Climate Coordinator Kim Zemo will be convening a “broad-based committee of teachers, administrators, students, parents and other community members” to plan the implementation of ADL’s No Place for Hate curriculum.

“Utilizing our already existing school climate improvement teams — our student leadership teams and adult design teams,” said Smith, “we believe that we can integrate pieces of this curriculum into our current Climate Improvement Action Plans.”

Although the ADL does not currently support the No Place for Hate program in Connecticut, Smith said, the district will “coordinate with the ADL, pilot a number of the activities presented, and hopefully be the first school district in Connecticut to be recognized as a No Place for Hate district in the next school year.”

The district plans to have all instructional staff undergo the ADL’s one-hour training program called “The Jewish Experience: What Jewish Families Want Educators to Know,” and social studies teacher Cindy Beck-Moore will be launching a new Upstander Club at Middlebrook “with the goal of further empowering students to serve as strong allies to those who are marginalized by mean behavior.”