SWAMPSCOTT – On Thursday, according to school officials, a Swampscott High School student sent a swastika to a large group of students.
Swampscott High School Principal Dennis Kohut informed the community about the antisemitism in an email to high school students and families on Thursday, Nov. 3.
“I am writing to inform you of an incident that took place at school today, in which an unidentified student shared an offensive, anti-Semitic image through Airdrop that was subsequently viewed by a large number of students. We believe that those who accepted the Airdrop file were not aware of either the sender or the contents.
“We immediately spoke with students who viewed the image, some of whom were understandably upset. We took the opportunity to unequivocally remind students that there is absolutely no place for this in our school or the community overall.”
Kohut said the district had notified police, and urged someone with knowledge about the incident to come forward. “While we are trying to determine the source of the image, and have notified police, there is a chance we will not be successful without someone coming forward. We urge parents to discuss this with children and urge them to contact me or a teacher if they have any information,” he said.
Swampscott School Superintendent Pamela Angelakis provided a statement about the incident, but did not respond to several questions about the district’s findings to date.
“We are all concerned and angered by an incident at Swampscott High School Thursday, in which a student electronically shared a highly offensive, antisemitic image that was viewed by a large number of students,” Angelakis said in a statement. “The high school administration took immediate steps to not only attempt to determine the origin of the image but also unequivocally remind students that there is no place for this not only in the school, but also our community as a whole. The principal followed up with a school-wide assembly Friday morning to further reinforce that message. We all can and should validate that in our own words and deeds as we try to collectively be a more welcoming, inclusive community.”
Swampscott police could not be reached for comment.
This is the first antisemitic incident in Swampscott in 2022. Last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, there was one antisemitic incident in the town.
“Reports that a swastika was texted to, and seen by, a large number of students at Swampscott High School, is a grim reminder of the impact of these antisemitic actions on a community,” ADL New England Interim Regional Director Peggy Shukur said in a statement. “As this community heals from this incident, we will continue to support educators and the community in challenging all forms of harmful language and behaviors and educating students about offensive language and its impact. It is imperative that our school environments be safe and welcoming spaces for all students to learn and thrive. ADL’s Guide to Responding to School-Based Bias Incidents is an invaluable resource for educators when responding to incidents of hate, bias and antisemitism in schools.”
“I’m appalled to say the least,” added Rabbi Yossi Lipsker, who heard the news before Shabbat began. Lipsker, who leads Chabad of the North Shore in Swampscott, knows many of the town’s Jewish teenagers. “I would be eager to participate in an interactive conversation with the students to offer them a first-hand opportunity to learn more about Jewish faith, traditions, and history.”
This is a developing news story and will be updated. Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.