WESTFIELD, NJ — Parents and members of the community are reacting to word that a swastika was found in a bathroom at Franklin Elementary School on Wednesday.
The school’s principal, Eileen Cambria, sent a letter to parents (shared with TAPintoWestfield by the district), in which she said that there was a “disturbing graffiti symbol scratched on a small section of a panel in the first floor boys’ restroom.” The letter does not say what that symbol was.
“We immediately covered it and today it was removed,” she wrote. “We are trying to learn who did this, as it is most unusual here at Franklin or in a school with children this age. I wanted you to be aware of this and know that we take this very seriously. This morning I held a meeting with teachers to make them aware of the incident and to recommend that they talk to their students. These conversations will look and sound different at different grade levels, as they should be age-appropriate.
The simple part of the message is that we have respect for our school, school property, one another and ourselves and we do not deface school property. The more difficult part of the conversation centers on how words, symbols and attitudes can be hurtful and offensive, whether they are done thoughtlessly or intentionally.
“We will continue our work in the Franklin community – together with our parents – to reinforce the importance of respect to our future citizens.”
Doug Sagal, head rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, reacted to the incident.
“You are seeing a rise of anti-Semitism in this country the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1930’s,” Sagal said. “There is also a rise in hate crimes against other minority groups, and I believe very strongly that we as a community need to send a clear and unambiguous message that hatred and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated in the Westfield community."