Superintendent responds to hate speech
A sixth-grade student at Middlebrook School found a note on her locker that read "Jews will burn," which prompted the following letter from Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith on Thursday, Oct. 26.
Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers:
I am deeply sorry to inform you that there was another incident of hate speech at Middlebrook School. A sixth grade student found a sticky note on her locker that read “Jews will burn.” Principal Feltz immediately called all 6 yellow team members together and she and I addressed the students. We then assembled the rest of the student body to inform them of this incident, and spoke to them about the incredibly destructive power of hate speech. Students were informed of the consequences of such actions and called again to serve as stewards for inclusivity, kindness, and community.
Please know that I am distraught by these instances of hate. Our schools are beacons of light in this community and this kind of speech reflects the very worst of humanity — they have no place in our schools and in our community.
Students found to be committing acts like the one above will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and subject to suspension and expulsion.
We have been engaged with the Anti-Defamation League since the appearance of the first Nazi swastika two weeks ago. Middlebrook teachers have been engaged in delivering lessons crafted by the ADL and are working with their students on teams to address the presence of hate speech.
We will convene a meeting with Middlebrook parents tomorrow at 9 a.m. in the Middlebrook Auditorium. There will be a follow up meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday in the Middlebrook auditorium.
In the coming days, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice and I will convene several events to confront these issues as a community. The first will be a meeting of local clergy and town officials. That meeting will be followed by an event that will include representatives from the many organizations that serve children and families across the community. Those details will be published as soon as they are finalized.
Please know that we are all committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all children in all of our schools and we will not tolerate hate speech in any form. Individuals who are caught committing such acts will be dealt with severely.
Please know that the Wilton schools, Wilton Police and town officials are working as a cohesive unit, both to investigate these incidents while also reaching out to teach students why such acts of hate are wrong and hurtful. But I implore our parents and caregivers to bring these discussions into your homes. Please take a few minutes tonight, and over the next few evenings, to remind your children of the seriousness of this situation, and why we must make it our highest priority. Wilton is a community built on love, tolerance and respect. Working together, recognizing that we all have a role to play in teaching our children, I am confident we will emerge a stronger and better community.
Kevin J. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools