Racist, anti-Semitic graffiti at Amherst Regional High School investigated

  • Amherst-Pelham Regional High School.

Staff Writer
Published: 12/15/2020 4:12:59 PM
Modified: 12/15/2020 4:12:49 PM

AMHERST — School administrators and Amherst Police are investigating racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found drawn in chalk Friday outside Amherst Regional High School.

Superintendent Michael Morris, in an email co-signed by Assistant Superintendent Doreen Cunningham, high school Principal Talib Sadiq and Summit Academy Principal David Slovin, notified families this week about the incident at the school building, where few staff and students are inside as remote instruction continues for nearly all teachers and students.

“These chalk drawings, which included a racial slur and a swastika, were photographed and quickly removed; however, the drawings were a blatant violation of school policy, and more importantly our community’s core values,” Morris wrote. “No one should ever have to come to work or school and experience discrimination and bigotry in any form.”

Police Detective Lt. William Menard confirmed that the matter remains under investigation.

In an email to the Gazette, Morris said staff members who were working in the building saw the graffiti on Friday afternoon and notified Sadiq, who was in the office.  Morris added that while there was no indication any individual was targeted, that would be determined by the police investigation.

Morris added that though few people saw the chalk graffiti, the vandalism was an act of hatred on school property and that notifying families about incidents like this is important, whether the school is on break or during the summer.

“The Amherst Regional Public Schools are an actively anti-racist district, which means acknowledging and confronting racist acts when they occur,” Morris said.

The email to families observes that incidents of bias, bigotry and hatred in the United States and across the globe have been escalating:

“It is a clear reminder of why we are unequivocal about doing work to make our school community an actively anti-racist institution. In recent years, our schools have engaged in anti-racist educational programming, for both students and staff, designed to broaden perspectives and create greater cultural awareness. We are fully committed to continuing this work as, clearly, we still have much to do when it comes to embodying a fully inclusive, hate-free, and understanding community.”

Counselors will be provided to talk to students about the incident, and staff and teachers will also have opportunities to discuss the matter.

The chalk graffiti is the second example found on school grounds in recent weeks, but the complete opposite of what happened late last month, in time for Thanksgiving, when positive chalk art was placed at both the middle school and high school.

At the middle school entrance to the central administrative offices, “You Make Me Smile!” with a smiley face, was put on the sidewalk, and at the high school “ARHS students, faculty and staff, you are loved!” was written.

At a Dec. 2 meeting, Morris told the Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional school committees that the chalk art was shared on social media and that students, teachers, staff and administrators appreciated the “wonderfully kind messages.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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