The principal of Maplewood Middle School issued a statement today reporting that the school administration had investigated a “Harassment Intimidation and Bullying” or HIB incident “involving the use of the Nazi gesture and verbal salute [that] occurred between a small group of students” and that the school was responding with a series of events including anti-bias discussions aimed in which 8th graders would be included and training for faculty.
A spokeswoman for the South Orange-Maplewood School District said that the district could not provide further details or comment as the incident is being “handled as an HIB matter.”
The incident follows on two recent anti-Semitic incidents reported at South Orange Middle School, including the drawing of a swastika in a restroom in December 2016 and alleged anti-Semitic slurs and posts by students in spring 2016.
See Maplewood Middle School Principal Dara Gronau’s full letter to the MMS community below:
To the Maplewood Middle School Community:
At Maplewood Middle School, we are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where students can grow, learn, and participate in society as informed and caring citizens. We have taken various steps to support this effort and will continue to do so. Ensuring that all students and families feel welcome and safe when they enter our doors will always be a priority for our school.
Today we became aware that in one of our classrooms, an incident involving the use of the Nazi gesture and verbal salute occurred between a small group of students. The MMS Leadership Team conducted an investigation. We have responded to this matter as an incident of Harassment, Bullying and Intimidation (HIB). HIB specialists are working with us to take appropriate responsive steps.
We see this as an important teachable moment, which demonstrates our need to reinforce our belief in the importance of inclusiveness. We will take the following actions:
We will make adjustments to upcoming advisory sessions to include specific anti-bias discussions.
We will create opportunities for 8th graders to participate in these discussions.
We will conduct a meeting with the faculty reminding them of the importance of responding to and being vigilant about incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying in our school.
Continue to promote anti-bias professional development available and accessible to staff.
Words are powerful and we must teach our students that we should not use our words to hurt others. We ask for the partnership and support of our parents and guardians in talking with your children about the important role each of us has in making sure our school is a safe environment, where each student feels respected and included. These two links to resources have been shared with staff, and you may find them useful tools for conversations at home:
We thank you for your support of our shared objective of creating a safe and welcoming educational environment for our students.
Dara Crocker Gronau