SHREWSBURY – A swastika and the N-word was found in the stall of a girls’ bathroom at Shrewsbury High School last week, according to an email from Principal Todd Bazydlo to Shrewsbury families yesterday.
“The words and symbols used are deplorable, and we denounce them and these behaviors,” he said.
Bazydlo said the vandalism was discovered and reported by a student, who contacted him.
“School administrators immediately closed the restroom and captured pictures of the graffiti for evidence,” Bazydlo said.
Custodial staff removed the graffiti before reopening the bathroom.
Administrators began an investigation. As of Jan. 11, staff haven’t been able to determine the person or people responsible.
Bazydlo said administrators will continue their efforts, though.
He said that, once the student or students are identified, they will be held accountable “under our school’s code of conduct and the applicable state and federal law.”
“As you know, this situation is incredibly upsetting to our staff, students and me,” Bazydlo said. “It is particularly painful for the Black and Jewish members of our community, and I want all students to know that they can turn to a trusted adult, such as a teacher, school counselor or administrator, for support or to debrief about this incident.”
He said he doesn’t believe these actions represent the beliefs and values of an “overwhelming” majority of students.
However, he said he realizes that the school is a “microcosm of what is happening in the world in which we live.”
“Instances of bias, prejudice and hate speech exist and continue to be amplified via social media and perpetuated in our society,” Bazydlo said. “I sincerely hope we do not have additional instances of this type of hateful graffiti. If we do, we will continue to investigate and hold individuals accountable for their behavior however possible.”
SHS saw previous incident in fall
The high school previously reported that they found “hateful” graffiti in two girls bathrooms back in November.
Staff said they identified a student who was responsible for some of the graffiti in that incident and held them accountable.
In a separate incident, students on a bus allegedly wrote phrases on an iPad that were “demeaning to Brazilian students” and showed the iPad to Brazilian students in a car behind the bus.
In that instance, staff identified the students and said they would be held responsible.
In this incident, Bazydlo urged any parents or students with information to contact either an administrator or a trusted adult at the high school.
Principal notes recent action
Bazydlo said SHS staff have been engaging students in conversations about the “substantial detrimental effect” that hateful language has upon the community.
He outlined steps the school has taken since the November incident in particular.
The school held a “learning session” on ways to intervene when they hear or see biased and prejudiced language. SHS staff also met with students to address their concerns about bias, prejudice and think of ways to engage the student population.
Bazydlo said staff have worked to identify students that will attend a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Virtual Summit later this month.
Additionally, the school has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League about anti-semitism and opportunities educational programs, which staff have continued to plan.
“The incident described is deeply troubling,” Superintendent Joseph Sawyer said in a statement. “In addition to denouncing this action, Mr. Bazydlo’s message also lists the variety of ways in which SHS has been working to educate and to address issues of hate, bias and prejudice, and I appreciate these efforts that the SHS community has been undertaking.”