SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury Public Schools Superintendent Joe Sawyer addressed a pair of incidents involving “unacceptable” and “hurtful” language at Shrewsbury High School during a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen last week.
His comments were part of a larger school department update in which Sawyer discussed challenges the district was facing.
One of those challenges, he said, was a need to focus on equity and anti-racism.
The Shrewsbury Public Schools already have goals for diversity, belonging, inclusion and equity work, Sawyer said.
“Unfortunately, we had [very] unfortunate and concerning…incidents at Shrewsbury High School recently around hateful language related to race and students’ national origin that just reminds us that we need to continue to focus those efforts because we are not immune to these issues, obviously, in our community,” Sawyer said.
In one of the incidents, staff members said they found “hateful” graffiti in two of the high school’s girls bathrooms, according to a letter sent to families on Nov. 19.
In another incident, students on a bus allegedly wrote phrases on an iPad that were “demeaning to Brazilian students.” Students then showed the iPad to Brazilian students in a car behind the bus, the letter to families said.
The students were identified and staff said they will be held responsible.
In the graffiti incident, school administrators conducted an investigation and identified a student who was responsible for some of the graffiti. They held that person accountable.
Principal Todd Bazydlo denounced their language and behavior.
He said the school “will redouble its efforts to educate students on the impact hate has upon our society and our fellow citizens, and provide structured opportunities for students and staff to work to combat hate.”