CHICAGO (CBS) — A Jewish student at Oscar Mayer Magnet School found a Nazi swastika marked on their locker this week, along with “other derogatory symbols,” and school officials said it was just the latest in a string of troubling acts of bullying and cultural insensitivity.
In a letter to parents, Oscar Mayer administrators described what they called “saddening and alarming” incidents in the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP).
“Over the past two weeks, we are seeing a rise in bullying behaviors with the students in MYP. Specifically, we have seen a desensitization of our students to “joking around” with one another about inappropriate and culturally insensitive things such as socioeconomic status, race, or religion,” principal Danielle Drayton wrote.
According to the letter, the most recent incident involved a swastika and other “derogatory symbols” marked on a Jewish student’s locker.
“This is deplorable and we denounce it! We have removed these vicious symbols of oppression and genocide,” Drayton wrote.
School officials said they are investigating the recent incidents, and will take any disciplinary action necessary. Officials also are working with a “social-emotional learning specialist” to help them take steps to improve cultural sensitivity at the school.
“As the leaders of Mayer, we take this incredibly seriously and are determined to make these incidences a ‘teachable moment’ for our children,” Drayton wrote. “As we live in a world that is increasingly plagued with hate and violence of all kinds, we are even more determined to raise up students who will be agents of change, transforming the trajectory of the world, and empowering them to find their voice and stand up for what is right.”
Chicago Public Schools officials said they are planning cultural sensitivity activities with students at Oscar Mayer.