It turns out that engaging in acts of racial hatred is not that big of a deal, at least not in the Massachusetts public school system.
Earlier this month, a student at Stoughton High in the state’s eastern Norfolk County was caught vandalizing one of the school’s hallways by using electrical tape to plaster the walls with swastikas.
Along came a teacher, who reprimanded the student and made him take down the offensive symbols.
She was supported by two of her colleagues, who gave the boy a serious talking-to on the inappropriateness of his behavior.
Now, had the story ended there, it wouldn’t have merited further mention, but the teacher felt that the student’s unpardonable act was so deplorable that she decided to rescind a college recommendation letter she had given him late last year.
Long story short, the student complained to the school’s superintendent, Marguerite Rizzi, and guess who got called on the carpet (hint: not the student)?
No, instead of backing the teacher in her decision to withdraw the recommendation letter, Rizzi decided to punish her with a 20-day suspension for daring to persecute the poor lad unfairly.
And, just for good measure, Rizzi also decided to issue disciplinary letters to the other two educators who had reprimanded the boy for his free expression, since they later decided to make the incident into a teaching moment by discussing anti-Semitism in their classrooms.
Challenged by the local newspaper to justify her irrational decisions, Rizzi explained: “The student believed that he was being targeted, creating a hostile environment for him by members of the faculty because of his actions, despite having already been disciplined by the administration.”
But Rizzi’s response simply doesn’t wash.
The real culprit here is a school board that punishes it faculty for standing up against hatred and trying to instill fundamental values of ethnic and religious tolerance in its student body.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association has called Rizzi’s decision unjust and demanded a formal apology, but Rizzi still refuses to give in.
Meanwhile, members of the Stoughton High School faculty have created a GoFundMe account for the suspended teacher.
And as for the kid who created the swastikas in the first place, he got his recommendation letter reinstated and will no doubt soon be spreading his hatred at his university of choice in the state of Massachusetts.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at email@example.com.