EDGEBROOK — Parents of students at a Far Northwest Side public school are planning a peace march after antisemitic incidents were reported twice in less than a week.
School officials at Edgebrook Elementary School, 6525 N. Hiawatha Ave., alerted parents about swastikas drawn in the boys’ bathroom Friday and again on Monday, according to letters sent to parents by the principal and assistant principal.
Slurs were also used, according to the letters.
“We write to you today to share the disturbing news of repeated anti-Semitic graffiti (swastikas) in our middle school hall bathroom and a classroom and two instances of bias-based language/racial slurs written and spoken around race (n** and b**) in just this past week,” officials wrote in a letter Friday.
On Monday, the principals met with some middle school classes to discuss the incidents and remind students about the “responsibility we all have to create a safe, welcoming and affirming school experience for one another,” according to a Monday letter.
That same day, more swastikas appeared in the middle school boys’ bathroom, the principals said.
“We want to be clear that we firmly and unequivocally denounce these acts and recognize the harm that they cause to both those targeted and those who see or hear,” they wrote. “They are not in line with our core values of Mind, Heart, and Effort, and they do not promote the inclusive and affirming environment we all want and work toward.”
While officials are looking into the incidents and possible consequences for those involved, parents are speaking out against the hate.
The hateful language and symbols were “super alarming,” said the Jewish parent of a kindergartner, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
“Even if you’re not a Jewish family or a family of any minority group, you should be terrified by this,” she said. “But as parents of a Jewish kid, it’s scary to think of him going to a school where this is happening. And it’s hurtful. The fact that it comes to our community and school is really disappointing and really sad.”
A peace march is being organized by parents for next week, she said.
Some parents said the school and Chicago Public Schools are not doing enough to address the issue. Others said they appreciate the open communication from school officials but want more information about how they are handling the issue.
The parent told Block Club she wants to know more about the investigation and what consequences are in place for whoever is responsible.
“I just want my kid to be safe,” she said. “But I get there is only so much that the school can do right now; they really need support from CPS. … I would love to know what the plan is for educating the students — and educating the parents — [on] how to teach a culture of inclusion and respect and acceptance and really teaching anti-racist culture at the school.”
An elected school board council parent representative, who also spoke to Block Club anonymously, said she’s glad to see the school community take action with the planned march, despite school officials trying to ignore the problem for a month, she said.
A swastika was first spotted Nov. 9, and they have been drawn a few times since then, she said. A parent reported it to the principal, but it was not until after last week’s incident that the principal alerted the school community, she said.
The local school council met at the end of November, but the members were not told about the Nov. 9 incidents until recently, she said.
“In all of this, one thing I think that is a positive is the school community was immediately shocked and moved to action,” she said.
CPS is investigating the incident and does not tolerate “discrimination in any form,” a district spokesperson said in a statement.
Antisemitic hate speech and incidents are on the rise, according to a 2022 report from the Anti-Defamation League.
In October, a Jones College Prep student wore a Nazi-like uniform and goose-stepped at the school’s Halloween parade, which sparked protests and the firing of the principal for how he handled the situation.