There is another community meeting tomorrow night to address the recent hate crimes.

I have no expectations for any changes in anything the district is doing and I make no apologies for my attitude. I’ve seen too many of these fake community meetings to believe otherwise: Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

These meetings are the result of a scandal that the district could not contain. Whether it’s the Mariners Gold Ribbon fiasco or these hate crimes, the format is all the same: A bunch of district administration bigwigs show up, act concerned, talk about the importance of a dialogue with the community and then listen intently while stroking their chins in an effort to take it all in.

So, for new readers, let’s recap: The community input and recommendations for the fence around Adams disregarded the area’s recommendation and installed a different fence configuration. When asked at a community meeting why they did this, the district rep said, “We changed our minds.” I know because I was there.

After reaching out to the community for input, the district ignored the community’s wishes on the Collegiate Calendar and on the area maps.

So, forgive me if I am cynical, but there is a track record of these fake meetings. Until I see some comprehensive, long-term, strategic plan to battle hate on campuses, I will remain skeptical.

Sorry, kids

I give no quarter to the students who thought it was all a big joke and are wondering why everyone is so upset.

In human history, there is no greater symbol of hate and evil than the swastika and this incident has exposed an undercurrent of intolerance and bigotry that must be addressed.

But the district will position this as an anomaly – bet on it. They’re already doing it by focusing on whether and whom to discipline. That’s the strategy – Identify the bad apples, throw some discipline at them, and proclaim that the problem is solved. It worked with the Mariners mess, the prom draft, and many other problems that this administration has faced over the past five or so years.

This is not about things like underage drinking or smoking a joint or cheating on a test, or any of the other common teenage mistakes. This is no longer about the red cups and the swastika and the salute, it’s about a sick culture that has to be identified and addressed.

This is not the prom draft.

Was there a cover-up?

I was 18 when Sen. Sam Ervin led the Watergate hearings. I saw all the witnesses – Dean, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Alexander Butterfield, who may singlehandedly have brought down the Nixon administration by revealing that the president was taping everything.

With Watergate, it wasn’t the crime that brought Nixon down, it was the cover-up, and it was a major lesson that many of those in power across the country still have not learned.

What the community needs to know NOW is whether the previous hate incidents mentioned in the Times story – including at least one death threat – were reported to law enforcement. I wrote the questions in the previous blog post but here they are again:

  1. Were the desks with swastikas reported to or seen by any district personnel?
  2. If so, who saw them and which supervisors or law enforcement agencies were informed?
  3. Were the stalls with swastikas reported to or seen by any district personnel?
  4. If so, who saw them and which supervisors or law enforcement agencies were informed?
  5. Were any district personnel aware of this death threat?
  6. If so, who knew and when did he or she know it?
  7. Were any law enforcement agencies informed?
  8. Did the district notify parents of any of these hate incidents – or any others?

Were these incidents reported or covered up?

Here’s why it matters…

Imagine that you are new to the community. Your family is Jewish. You’re researching the local high school options and NHHS looks pretty good to you and you’re seriously considering sending your kid there instead of a private school or another school in the district.

Wouldn’t you like to know that swastikas have appeared on campus and that a death threat was leveled at a student?

Of course, you would. No parent would knowingly put their child in such an environment – in harm’s way, actually – but you would not have the benefit of this vital information if it was never reported.

It’s no longer the crime, it’s the cover-up, and the district should get out in front of this today and tell the community whether these other hate incidents were reported to law enforcement. They should do this today even if it’s simply to get out in front of another scandal that is easily verified by a check of law enforcement records.

But they won’t.

I’m guessing that none of them watched the Watergate hearings.

Steve Smith

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