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Another Swastika Is Found At John Jay High School

John Jay High School
John Jay High School Photo Credit: File

CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- Another act of vandalism involving a swastika has been reported at John Jay High School, officials announced on Wednesday.

The latest swastika was found in a library bathroom at the school, according to emails from officials.

The incident is the third of its kind in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District over the past three months. Swastikas were found carved into a tree on the school's grounds last month. Over the holiday break in late December, spray painted swastikas were found on playground equipment at the shuttered Lewisboro Elementary School in South Salem. Three local students are suspects in the first case, although officials have not announced whether there are any suspects for the high school incidents.

Below are copies of emails sent out from Schools Superintendent Andrew Selesnick and from high school Principal Steve Siciliano. Italics have been added for visual clarity, while the letters are separated with an inserted dotted line:

Dear KLSD Community,

A short while ago, Dr. Siciliano, John Jay High School Principal, informed the high school community that yet another swastika was discovered today on school property. We are confident that this swastika was recently created. Students alerted administration to the presence of the symbol in a library bathroom. For further detail, I have attached the notice sent by Dr. Siciliano.

In my January 24th letter to the community, in which I provided information about how the school district is responding to the repeated instances of swastikas on school property, I said that I would soon provide an opportunity for dialogue.

I am now extending that invitation to any and all members of our community who would like to join us in discussion. On Thursday, February 16th at 7:30 pm, we will provide a forum in the John Jay High School cafeteria.

While there are steps that schools take to help students understand the meaning and impact of their actions, the work of inspiring empathy and combating hatred is work for a collective, connected community. My intention for our meeting on the 16th is to provide a space for dialogue, for the sharing of concerns and hopes, and for thinking together about moving forward. I hope this will be an opportunity for us to consider the many ways we inspire respect, empathy, and compassion, and I hope you will consider joining us.

Sincerely,

Andrew Selesnick

Superintendent of Schools

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

February 8, 2017

Dear JJHS Community,

With a deep sense of sadness, I must report another incident of a swastika at JJHS.

This morning, students alerted administration to a swastika in a library bathroom. Once again, the police were notified immediately and have commenced their investigation. Once again, we must condemn the appearance of this hateful symbol in our school and continue the work that has already begun.

A number of students have already exercised real leadership by planning events and programs to respond positively to prior incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus and in the community. These plans include inviting Mrs. Judith Altmann, who is a Holocaust survivor, to speak to all of us later this month. We are also in contact with the Anti-Defamation League about possible programming for the future. Later today, Mr. Selesnick will be sending a letter to the entire community, inviting all to an open forum next Thursday, February 16th.

When similar events happen in succession, we must consider the possibility that the root cause may be a misplaced need for attention and weigh our response accordingly. While certain responses are predictable (calling the police, condemning the act), other responses will vary. Please know that we are giving considerable thought and attention as to the best path forward for all our students.

We continue to ask for the assistance and support of the student body and community. We are extremely grateful that students came to us immediately today. If anyone else has information related to this most recent act, please contact an administrator or the Lewisboro Police immediately.

Be assured that we will continue working with our students, community, and police to help put a stop to these most disturbing acts.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and assistance.

Sincerely,

Steven T. Siciliano, Ed.D.

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