Board Of Education Assures Families That Officials ‘Will Not Tolerate’ Hate Incidents

Monday evening message describes efforts to promote safe schools


Published:

A screenshot of a school board message emailed to parents on Monday night.

Via Montgomery County Public Schools

Elected officials sent a message to Montgomery County Public Schools families on Monday, stressing the system’s commitment to cracking down on intolerance and promoting racial and cultural understanding in the wake of hate-based incidents.

“These hate-based actions by a small handful of people are wrong and antithetical to our core values of respect and equity, which are fundamental to ensuring student learning,” stated the message from the Montgomery County Board of Education. “As Superintendent Jack R. Smith has stated, MCPS will not tolerate this behavior.”

The board’s statement, which was emailed to parents, comes after a video message that Smith issued on the same topic, shortly before Christmas. School spokesman Derek Turner said the messages reflect the increase in hateful acts and concerns voiced by parents in the aftermath of these incidents.

The system is working with county police to deal with the actions that have unsettled local school communities in recent months.

Since last year, swastikas have been scrawled on surfaces at Beall Elementary School in Rockville and Westland Middle School in Bethesda, burnt into the football field at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg and spray-painted at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda. A derogatory racial statement was discovered on the wall at Woodlin Elementary School in Silver Spring.

The school system will take disciplinary action to confront these types of incidents, according to the message. But educators also hope to get ahead of the problem with initiatives like the Study Circles program, which encourages dialogue about race, religion and culture. MCPS has also released a set of guidelines for respecting religious diversity and is training staff in cultural competency.

The statement also addressed concerns about the treatment of undocumented students in county schools.

“MCPS remains a welcoming learning environment for all students, regardless of immigration status,” the message stated. “We have, and will continue to, inform our staff that they should not take any actions that may discourage the participation or lead to the exclusion of students based on immigration status.”

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