Sep. 16—For the second time in a week, swastikas and a salute to Hitler were found scrawled in the restroom of a Cobb County high school.
On Wednesday, Lassiter High School's principal, Chris Richie, said the school had found antisemitic graffiti in one of its bathrooms. Similar graffiti was reported at Pope High School on Sept. 9.
"I am both angered and saddened by the appearance of symbols and words of hatred in our school and community," Richie wrote on the Lassiter PTSA's Facebook page. "I do think it is important to first let parents know what occurred, to name it, and to let our students know that we condemn it."
Richie said the "despicable act" had occurred despite increased patrols in the school, including hourly checks on restrooms. The incident is under investigation, and Richie made reference in his post to "a recent social media trend."
Cobb School District spokesperson Nan Kiel provided the following statement to the MDJ:
"A recent disturbing social media trend involving hate speech is unacceptable and distracting from our teachers' and students' ability to focus on teaching and learning. Our principals are engaging with students, teachers, parents, and community members about how to prevent the harmful and illegal behavior from happening. There is zero tolerance for actions that harm individual students, people groups or the school building, and all applicable District policies and laws will be applied," Kiel wrote in an email.
The Lassiter incident was the latest in a series of controversies in the school district, beginning with the discovery of swastikas and "Hail (sic) Hitler" graffiti at Pope last week. Pope Principal Thomas Flugum pledged to "hold those responsible accountable to our district policies and applicable state laws."
Temple Kol Emeth Senior Rabbi Larry Sernovitz was alerted to the incident by a congregant, and addressed the student body last Friday.
"I spoke about the concept of humanity," Sernovitz said. "This isn't just about the Jewish community, but it's about humanity as a whole. And we have to understand what it means to live together and to be allies for one another ... because this time it was the Jewish community, the next time it could be any one of you."
Sernovitz noted that it was not lost on Cobb's Jewish community that the graffiti came during the holiest period of the year. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, ended Sept. 8.
In response to the graffiti at Pope, Kiel said earlier in the week the district finds it unacceptable "anytime students misbehave, and in this case disrespect, individual students, people groups, and their school."
The Anti-Defamation League, however, found that lacking, and said Kiel and the district had "failed to characterize the incident as antisemitic."
"As hate crimes surge in Georgia and across the country, it's unacceptable that Cobb County Schools is failing to address or even name antisemitic incidents occurring in their own schools, and refusing to engage with ADL to respond effectively," ADL Southern Division Vice President Allison Padilla-Goodman said.
Further fanning the controversy, the school district had originally planned to hold its monthly school board meeting on Thursday, which is Yom Kippur — the holiest day in the Jewish faith. Sernovitz criticized the scheduling, saying it would be akin to hosting a meeting on Easter Sunday in the Christian faith.
On Monday, the district announced the meeting would be moved to Sept. 23.
"We recognize that Yom Kippur is of vital importance to our Jewish community members and have decided to postpone our regular meeting to ensure that as many of our community members as possible can participate," the district said.