MCPS Chief Uses Holiday Video Message To Condemn Hate

Superintendent Jack Smith urges civility while discussing difficult topics


MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith delivers a holiday message on YouTube.

Via Montgomery County Public Schools

Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith has delivered a special holiday message that calls for rooting out intolerance and committing to civility in the coming year.

“We absolutely have to be committed as 2016 ends and as we start a new year to rejecting hate speech, to rejecting symbols that are hateful and disrespectful and just simply wrong. We have to reject people not being civil to one another. People being cruel. People being violent in their actions or in their deeds,” Smith said in the video message posted Thursday.

Recent months have seen a spate of hate incidents in public schools. Swastikas appeared in a Westland Middle School bathroom and at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda. A caustic substance was used to etch the anti-Semitic symbol into the football field at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg. Authorities in November reported that a racial slur was found on a bathroom wall at Sligo Creek Elementary School in Silver Spring, although school officials now say the words – “Kill Kill B” –were simply an act of vandalism and that they have no evidence the message was hate-based. But at the same school earlier this week, Montgomery County police reported a student discovered the words “kill all whites” written in a restroom stall.

The superintendent, who has proposed funding for training teachers in implicit bias and cultural awareness, said Montgomery County must commit to healthy dialogue.

“We have to come together as a community and really care for one another and be respectful and civil in our communication, in our relationships and as we talk about difficult topics and subjects together,” he said.

Since becoming the school system’s chief in July, Smith has put out a few video messages “as a way to speak with the community directly about important issues,” MCPS spokesman Derek Turner said Friday

In September, a video message from Smith dealt with school discussions about hate speech and racism. Others focused on tolerance and respect and on student protests to the election of Donald Trump as president and hate-related vandalism on school property.

Turner said he anticipated Smith would continue using YouTube to reach parents and other community members about important issues.

In the video released Thursday, Smith reflected on getting to know his new community.

“It’s been a real pleasure to be a part of a community that values education and cares about people so much,” he said.

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