Staff Finds Racist Graffiti in Richard Montgomery High School Classroom
Messages of “Trump power” and a racial slur were written on a white board
Richard Montgomery High School
Rockville police and Richard Montgomery High School officials are investigating an incident in which racist graffiti was found written on a classroom white board.
On the morning of Feb. 14, a school employee walked into a second-floor special education lab and found that someone had covered the white board with racially charged language. The messages said “Trump power,” “Slayer,” “we rule,” “we are the best,” “all white,” “white power” and “no n***rs” with the word “blacks” written underneath, Cpl. Rick Halverson of the Rockville police said Friday. The n-word was misspelled.
School staff immediately erased the graffiti, Halverson said.
School officials are conducting an investigation and believe the graffiti was written by a student or students, but discovered that security footage was inconclusive in identifying anyone involved, Principal Damon Monteleone said. Seventh-period teachers did not see the graffiti the previous day when they left the classroom.
The school has not had a problem with graffiti before this incident, he said. Richard Montgomery staff did not notify the student body because the vandalism did not contain any threats, but staff did take the incident “very seriously,” he said.
“Of course it concerns me,” Monteleone said. “We have probably the most diverse population for a school in the county. And one of our primary goals is ensuring a safe and tolerant learning environment for our kids, and so any time we see any kind of behavior that might make our kids feel concerned, that is a problem.”
Monteleone said Richard Montgomery, which is a minority-majority school, is continuing to hold a number of dialogues and events about tolerance in an attempt to proactively prevent other incidents of hate speech. Monthly “Rich Talks” allow students and staff of different races, religions and orientations to talk openly about their experiences, and the school’s morning television show has a staff panel where issues such as diversity and free speech are discussed, which Monteleone says elevates the dialogue around race and other issues.
The vandalism at the high school comes at a time when there is heightened concern about hate speech in the county.
On Feb. 9, the city of Rockville held a town hall discussing diversity in response to hate speech events. In January, an anti-Semitic note was left for a Rockville family after members had hung a Black Lives Matter banner from their condo. Also, police reported finding swastikas and “Hail Hitler” spray-painted on several trees in Rockville in January.