While antisemitic incidences have increased in Montgomery County Public Schools, administrators are hopeful that tougher sanctions for kids and mandatory parent education sessions would help to stop more issues.
Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight said on Wednesday that students who commit hate crimes would now have them recorded in their files, and their parents would be invited for follow-up meetings. If the occurrences continue, community town halls will also be held.
“When we have a problem that continues to happen, that means we have to go outward and bring others in,” she said.
Nine antisemitic incidents have been reported in four of the county’s schools since Friday. Students have drawn swastikas in some situations, according to McKnight, who did not name any particular schools, and other occurrences have been the result of continuing conflicts between kids.
Swastikas were discovered drawn on tables at various schools earlier this year. Two members of the Walt Whitman High School debate team were accused of joking about stoning Jewish people, including other debate team members.
The most populated county in Maryland has seen an increase in instances that target a particular race, religion, or another identity, which has led Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass (D) to propose the creation of a new anti-hate task force to address the problem.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and the school system are working to enhance the curriculum’s instruction on antisemitism and its historical effects. These more in-depth classes will start the next academic year, along with teacher training. Also, McKnight has agreed to hold a town hall discussion in collaboration with JCRC to address the antisemitic events on school property.
Jewish parents and kids have recently voiced their dissatisfaction with the school system’s handling of the antisemitic occurrences, according to Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director of the JCRC. She hoped McKnight’s statement would “send a signal” to the Jewish community and other disadvantaged groups regarding the level of faith they ought to place in the system.
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Franklin Siegel suggested that adding the occurrences to a student’s permanent record and requiring parents to intervene when their kids are determined to have committed hate crimes could be effective deterrents. There must be harsher punishments to try to stop this loop of incidents.
Yet, she added, there is still work to be done.
Implementing restorative justice procedures, which emphasize conflict resolution rather than traditional disciplinary measures, at several of the school system’s locations where the antisemitic incidents have occurred, worries the JCRC.
The perpetrators of the acts are expected to meet with the victims and offer their sincere apologies, but Franklin Siegel claimed that the school system hasn’t always adhered to these rules.
For additional details, kindly refer to the tweet that may be seen below:
Nine antisemitic incidents have been reported at several schools in Montgomery County since Friday, school leaders say. What the school system says it's doing to toughen penalties for such acts: https://t.co/UrZhSYcULr
— NBC4 Washington (@nbcwashington) February 23, 2023
For instance, the process was mandated for all students involved at Walt Whitman High, where two debate team members allegedly made jokes about using challah to entice Jews to the remote Andaman Islands and burn them at the stake.
However, she claimed that the two students who reportedly commented failed to apologize and acknowledge their actions appropriately. Franklin Siegel said that JCRC asked the school to stop the procedure because it harmed the pupils.
The curriculum changes are encouraging, according to Adam Zimmerman, who teaches seventh-graders at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, about the Holocaust and have two children in the educational system.
However, Zimmerman also believes better data collection is necessary because many antisemitic incidents go unreported. He pushed for a method comparable to the anti-racism audit the school system undertook last year so that students and staff could report what they had witnessed and how it had affected them without fear of retaliation.
The nine occurrences reported in the last three school days, according to Zimmerman, 40, indicate that “we are a long way from getting a handle on this problem.”