SUMMIT, NJ – The Hilltop City's citizenry has firmly proclaimed that "Hate Has No Home Here," however the Summit School District has reported that another ugly racially-charged image has – for the sixth time in the past four-plus months – been found in a Summit Public School.
Superintendent of Schools June Chang, in his monthly remarks at the April 11 Summit Board of Education Meeting, said that a swastika was found in the sixth-floor girls' bathroom at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School.
“We did go one month without, but I’m sad that I have to report this,” Chang said.
He said that the swastika was removed and that the district would continue to provide educational programming about hate speech. He urged parents to have “dialogues” with their children about these incidents.
All told, since late November of 2018, there have been six known incidents as reported by Summit Public Schools officials:
- Swastikas were found at LCJSMS prior to the 2018 Thanksgiving break.
- Swastikas and "additional offensive drawings" were found at LCJSMS immediately after that same Thanksgiving break.
- Swastikas were found carved into stalls in a boys bathroom at Summit High School, school principal Stacy Grimaldi announced on November 30, 2018.
- Grimaldi disclosed that additional "hateful symbols and words" were found December 10, 2018, in Summit High School bathrooms.
- During the Summit Board of Education meeting this past January, it was reported that two swastikas were recently found at LCJSMS.
- Additional swastikas are found at LCJSMS as disclosed at the April 11 Board meeting.
When the first incident was reported, Chang noted that the Summit Police Department had been notified and that a "police and school-wide investigation is ongoing."
After the latest incident was reported, TAPinto Summit contacted City of Summit Police Chief Robert Weck relative to the status of the now nearly five-month-long investigation.
"We continue to work with the District on the ongoing investigation," said Weck.
To date, it has not been publicly disclosed if any alleged or known perpetrators have been identified or disciplined.
Attendance at the April Board meeting was back to more traditional levels, as the large crowds that attended for many months to voice opinions on issues and initiatives such as Full-Day Kindergarten and elementary school class sizes stayed home, but for a handful of parents, community members, and administrators.
In her opening remarks, Board President Deb McCann gave a full synopsis of the responsibilities of the Board and the administration. She said that goal of the Board is to share the District’s “vision, mission, and values” and discussed the three-year focus areas and board goals.
She outlined the hierarchy of the District, the Code of Ethics, and methods for resolution of conflicts. She outlined the five committees of the Board: education, communications, policy, operations, and negotiations.
She talked about “Sunshine Laws,” and the “confusion” people in the District often have about the Board’s ability to discuss issues.
New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act, known as “The Sunshine Law,” ensures that decision-making government bodies, such as the Board of Education, conducts its business publicly. Certain exclusions apply, as did this evening when the Board met behind closed doors to discuss a personnel matter.
McCann said that this “ensures transparency.”