Multiple swastikas were drawn in a boys’ bathroom at Westland Middle School, sparking a letter home to parents.
A student told administrators about the swastikas at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Principal Alison Serino said. According to her letter to parents, the bathroom was then “secured,” and school support officials at Montgomery County Public Schools and county police were notified.
“We are very saddened by this incident. This type of behavior will not be tolerated. Once the culprit(s) are identified, consequences will be administered in accordance to the MCPS Code of Conduct,” Serino’s letter said.
The swastikas were drawn with an ink pen and with a glue stick, the letter says.
“After appropriate documentation by our staff and by the police, our building services staff removed the vandalism,” according to the letter sent to parents.
In the telephone interview, Serino said the cleanup was still a “work in progress.”
“The bathroom is still off limits until we’re sure it’s undetectable,” she said.
Today was a half-day for middle-school students because parent conferences were scheduled in the afternoon.
Serino, who said she was a former government teacher, said it was the school’s job to give students a safe space to understand how critical freedom of speech is. “But kids have to understand that with the freedoms come absolute limits,” she said.
This marks the third act of vandalism featuring a swastika in less than a month. On Oct. 13, someone used a caustic substance to create a swastika and “images of male genitalia” on the grass of the football field at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg.
And in the weekend preceding Halloween, someone painted swastikas and other inappropriate images on school banners, sidewalks and telephone poles at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda.
MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said that in the wake of incidents like this, schools try to have conversations with students about race and diversity.
“I don’t think our principals say, ‘Send a letter home and we’re done,’” Onijala said.