Anti-Semitic graffiti was found Wednesday at Danvers High School, just one day after district officials announced the wrestling team had been suspended while they investigated a fight over racist language and a team group chat where there were references to hazing and hateful and biased language.
Principal Adam Federico said in an email to students and families that he was "deeply saddened and frustrated" to share that the administration and police are investigating an incident in which a swastika symbol was drawn in a third floor bathroom stall. Federico said he was proud of the student who reported the grafitti to a staff member Wednesday afternoon.
The principal said they do not know who did this, or why, but that it won't be tolerated.
"We condemn this hate crime and want to be clear that this type of hateful and discriminatory behavior has no place at Danvers High School," Federico said.
The principal said school officials will be meeting with students throughout the next few days to engage in work around biased and hateful language, dangers of social media and the importance of reporting concerning information.
Additional support will be made available to students this week on an as needed basis, the principal said.
The Danvers Public Schools superintendent also addressed the latest incident at the high school in her weekly newsletter, writing that "it has been another challenging week in Danvers as DHS investigates alleged incidents with the wrestling team...and an incident involving antisemitic graffiti."
Lisa Dana condemned the hate incidents and said that type of hateful and discriminatory behavior has no place at the high school or in the community.
She said these incidents come directly after district officials presented a comprehensive action plan to the school committee regarding what the district is doing to improve culture.
The plan will be presented again at the human rights and inclusion committee meeting at 7 p.m. at town hall.
"We are asking for your support," Dana wrote. "As parents, caregivers, and community members, please have the difficult conversations with your children about these issues."
The superintendent said as Federico mentioned, it is important for families to review their use of social media and cell phones and to reinforce that racist, biased, or inappropriate language is unacceptable.
She also shared that there will be a lecture series for parents via Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 16, on "Kids and the impact of toxic stress: How the pandemic, systemic racism, societal inequalities, technology, and other stressors of our current world can impact our children in toxic and traumatic ways and how we can help."
The virtual presentation is free and open to all. Registration is required no later than 10 a.m. Thursday.
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Announced one day earlier, the wrestling team investigation came on the heels of hazing allegations against the high school hockey team, in which a student athlete came forward to detail violent, sexual, homophobic and racist hazing rituals in the locker room.
There were calls for Danvers community leaders to resign after the allegations surfaced in November regarding the hockey team, specifically over the alleged attempt to cover up the alleged bigoted locker room behavior by the 2019-2020 boys varsity high school hockey team.
During a contentious Danvers School Committee meeting last month, community members questioned why nothing had been done since the hockey player first reported being abused about a year and a half ago.
The superintendent responded to that case in a meeting Monday night, saying, "The issues of racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism are not issues I or the district can solve on our own. These are problems facing our entire nation and while we may not be able to change the country, I believe that Danvers is a community that can come together and work together to make a difference.”