Reported hate speech prompts administration to hold staff meeting

The administration held a staff meeting this morning before school to address various hate speech incidents that reportedly occurred around campus in the last three weeks since the presidential election.

The police came to Lowell to look at the areas with graffiti on them and to take the administration’s official report about the alleged hate speech, according to assistant principal Dacotah Swett.

The incidents include graffiti, student-to-student speech and racially or ethnically insensitive comments.

Swett said there were reports of swastikas drawn on textbooks and desks and racist comments on the insides of doors in the school bathrooms. She also said Latino students reported hearing “do you need help packing?” and “getting ready to go back across the border?” after the election.

With security cameras, the administration caught one person vandalizing one of the hallways, according to Swett.

Swett said that perpetrators of hate speech will have to attend restorative justice meetings led by staff to repair harm by starting dialogue between offenders and victims. Those students will “face disciplinary consequences including the possibility of suspension” according to a memo the administration sent out for teachers to read to students in registry today. Lowell is having additional restorative justice training for the administration before winter break.

“I think it’s mostly misguided — in a sense, they’re looking for a reaction.”

The motives behind these incidents are unclear. “Why would a student put something hateful on the wall?” said Swett. “They’re feeling angry, they’re feeling upset, or they want to make a statement. I think it’s mostly misguided — in a sense, they’re looking for a reaction.”

Tomorrow principal Andrew Ishibashi will go to a district-wide meeting of San Francisco Unified School District high school principals where the hate speech incidents occurring in the district will be addressed, according to Ishibashi.

In the meeting this morning, the faculty discussed the increase in hate speech incidents nationally since the election. Ishibashi cited the Southern Poverty Law Center reports of over 700 hate speech incidents that have occurred nationally since the election, with 40 percent from K-12 schools.

Ishibashi said he is working with teachers and students to plan a positive and supportive event, similar to the student-organized counter-protest held when the Westboro Baptist Church hate group from Kansas protested at Lowell in 2010.

Rachael Schmidt contributed to this article.