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October 29, 2021 1:22 pm

Connecticut Public School to Address ‘Pattern of Behavior’ After Swastika Again Found

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Gorham’s Pond in Darien, Connecticut. Photo : Carol Highsmith, Library of Congress Collection / Picryl.

For the second time this year, a swastika was found drawn in a Darien, Connecticut public school, prompting district officials to hire a private diversity consultant to address what they called a “pattern of behavior.”

“Regrettably, we did have another incident yesterday of a swastika being drawn on a middle school boys’ bathroom stall,” Darien Public Schools Superintendent Alan Addley said on Tuesday, according to the Darien Times, speaking at a district board meeting about an incident at Middlesex Middle School.

“We do recognize that this pattern of behavior has occurred too many times and it has negatively affected the schools, community and the students’ educational experiences,” he said. “Know we’re acting with deliberate intention and interventions and actions that will make a long-term difference.”

Officials at Holmes Elementary School found a swastika scratched into a wall in March, according to local media, followed by later incidents of antisemitic comments shared by students on social media and other hateful vandalism. In September 2019, three swastikas were found at the local Middlesex Middle School, with another discovered a month later.

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On Tuesday, Addley announced that  a California-based diversity consultant will begin work in the district next week with a budget of $23,000. School board officials said they selected him after consulting material by the Anti-Defamation League.

One parent told the Darien Board of Education meeting that antisemitism in the local community “disgusts” her daily.

“Everyday, something else happens that worries and scares and disgusts me,” said the parent. “I moved to town in June of 2014. Shortly, thereafter, a new friend, upon hearing that I was Jewish, said ‘Don’t let anyone else in town know that.'”

“He was kidding,” she continued. “But that joke is indicative of the environment we now find ourselves in. The fact is that Jews in this town in our school don’t feel safe. People of color don’t feel safe … and our only response has been to talk about it, and then wait until the next incident.”

During the meeting, Addley called for “education” and “contrition.”

“I am confident our community has the will to stay the course together and address the issues through education, contrition, personal responsibility, and, yes, discipline. But also, thereafter and only thereafter, I believe we must also learn to forgive our children,” he said.

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