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anti-semitism

Teacher Punished After Rescinding College Letter for Student Who Made Swastika

Hallway at High School with Lockers.

Apparently, punishing a student who draws a swastika, which is a hate symbol, could get you suspended. Crazy world we live in, right? This is exactly what happened to a Massachusetts high school teacher when she was suspended after rescinding a college recommendation letter for a student caught vandalizing school property with a swastika.

The Stoughton High School teacher, who is also an Army veteran, is one of three teachers at the eastern Massachusetts school disciplined for discussing the swastika a student made from tape put on display in a hallway. Two of the teachers received disciplinary letters, while the third was suspended for 20 days. The Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi wrote in a letter to staff that was later obtained by The Enterprise newspaper in Brockton:

“The student believed that he was being targeted, creating a hostile environment for him by members of the faculty because of his actions, despite having already been disciplined by the administration.”

The student caught making the swastika out of tape was found by another student as they decorated the halls. Even more chilling, the student responded by making a comment about Adolf Hitler.

Somehow, the police said swastikas didn’t constitute hate crimes, so it was up to the school to find an appropriate punishment for the student. As a result, the teachers asked administrators to send a letter home to parents explaining the situation, but sadly, that didn’t happen. When two teachers brought up the incident in class to explain anti-Semitism, they were sanctioned with disciplinary letters.

So, what’s the teacher’s punishment? Apparently, the teacher will serve the suspension by not teaching on Thursdays or Fridays until April–which seems absurd for doing the right thing. And it only creates chaos and havoc for the teacher’s own students, which is unfair. I’m not sure what kind of example the school is setting by showing that standing up against hatred could cause you to get in trouble at work.

John Gunning, president of the local teachers union, said he was “deeply troubled” by the discipline, and went on to say:

“Having the teacher serve the suspension in two-day increments for 10 weeks interrupts the continuity of instruction and is detrimental to the students.”

The Massachusetts Teachers Association said the punishment of all three teachers is an “injustice”:

“The MTA is vigorously defending the teachers who were disciplined, and the statewide organization will support the Stoughton Teachers Association in any way possible as it fights the injustice done to members. Educators will not allow bigotry and hate to take hold in our schools. Nor will we allow those who speak and act against hate speech to be silenced.” 

Because of this, a GoFundMe account for the suspended teacher was created. The page described the teacher as “a very caring, funny, and most selfless teacher/veteran at Stoughton High School.”

It’s sad to see someone’s good example–in this case a teacher taking a stand against anti-Semitism–punished for merely doing the right thing.

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