Jewish students and other community members are speaking out against what they say are ongoing incidents of anti-Semitism at a Connecticut high school.
During the public-speaking portion of a school-board meeting on Monday night that did not have the anti-Semitism issue on the agenda, Amity High Regional School senior Simon Flaherty said: “Even when I am walking with my other Jewish friends and we see a certain group of teens, we scatter and walk in a different direction. I fear them yelling something like ‘I’m a Nazi’ or ‘These Jews deserve to die.’ ”
“Hearing the same words in my school that were uttered by the man that took 11 [Jewish] lives in Pittsburgh solely based on the fact that these people were Jewish truly terrifies me,” he said.
“Swastikas etched onto the walls, hall doors and desks, and jokes posted on social media,” added an unidentified student.
Students said the culture of bigotry has been growing at the school, and that anti-Semitism has occurred there for years.
Many speakers slammed an alleged vague memo the school sent to parents over an investigation of such rumors that consisted of the line: “We have found no evidence in the high school of widespread anti-Semitic behaviors.”
The memo said the school is “working closely with students, faculty and community members, such as local clergy and the Anti-Defamation League, to discuss the concerns and mindfully plan programming to address these issues. We are committed to this work and welcome the opportunity to partner with the larger community in future conversations.”
Interim Superintendent of Schools James Connelly told the crowd that “the first thing we have to do is admit there’s a problem.”
“I don’t know how you can look these children in the eye and not do something,” said a parent of one of the students, adding it was “offensive” that Amity administrators said the allegations are “just rumors.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) denounced the apparent goings-on at the school.
“There is absolutely no place for hate like the anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred at Amity High School,” he told JNS. “Students have bravely spoken out. I’m glad the school is working closely with Jewish community organizations to train staff and change school curriculum to educate students about anti-Semitism and make the school a more supportive, tolerant environment for all students.”
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy echoed Murphy’s sentiment.
“The alleged incidents, just weeks after the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in United States history, are abhorrent, particularly in light of FBI statistics showing yet another increase in hate crimes,” Malloy told JNS. “Schools should be a safe place for students to learn and grow, and racism and anti-Semitism have no place in Connecticut’s schools or our communities.” JN