Egan community unsettled by 'nasty, cruel' vandalism

Students’ discovery of a swastika drawn on the blacktop at Egan Junior High April 21 has sparked schoolwide conversations about religious intolerance and the school’s values.

The symbol, which appeared to have been drawn with pencil lead, was discovered by students Friday afternoon, quickly reported to staff and removed. Egan Principal Keith Rocha said the school is still investigating, but that a student is believed to be responsible.

“Friday’s incident was really surprising to all of us here at Egan,” Rocha said. “For us as a school, we do not tolerate this.”

The students who found the swastika, he added, told staff that it didn’t represent Egan and “is not who they are.”

Egan staff met April 24 to develop a response, including a student public service announcement reiterating the school’s commitment to tolerance and “upstander” culture – that is, a culture in which students stand up to injustice and bullying instead of being passive bystanders. Health classes will host smaller discussions, focusing broadly on tolerance but acknowledging the specific problem of anti-Semitism.

“We’re taking this really nasty, cruel and thoughtless message and trying to use it as an opportunity for our students to learn at a deeper level,” Rocha said.

Parents were notified in an April 25 email. Rocha said the incident has been reported to the Los Altos Police Department’s school resource officer.

“Our schools are places that are here for all students and all families,” said Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier. “We’re here to ensure their physical safety and their emotional safety at all times.”

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