UPDATE: Amid growing conversation about alleged instances of white supremacy, Pascack Valley High School officials confirmed that five students were disciplined this school year for “racially charged” language or behavior on social media posts, and sources said police were investigating.
Two no longer attend the school but weren’t expelled, they said.
The situation came to broader attention after a concerned student group calling itself the PVHS Human Rights League published an open letter on the web site of the school newspaper urging others to “stand up against white supremacy” at the high school.
They cited swastikas scrawled on walls, white power signs flashed at sporting events and on social media, and “uses of the ‘n’ word.”
Sources confirmed that a swastika was found carved into a stairwell door and another on a piece of paper, along with other unspecified graffiti in a bathroom. Hillsdale police were assisting school officials in investigating.
The letter, published Sunday, has led to, among other things, students, faculty and administrators wearing green to school yesterday.
Principal Thomas DeMaio convened assemblies at the school on Tuesday to address the topic. He also wrote to parents and students, urging them to discuss the issue in an attempt to “eradicate the hurtfulness of racial, religious, or gender bias in the Pascack Valley.”
The principal vowed to “put into place future measures so every student can come to Pascack Valley and need not worry about the possibility of hearing or seeing negative actions or words among their peers” and pledged consequences for those caught practicing intolerance.
DeMaio also joined students and faculty in posting tweets supporting the cause and praising diversity, using the hashtag: #PeaceinPV
A school safety meeting is scheduled this coming Wednesday.
In addition, the Anti-Defamation League expressed “alarm over allegations of racial and ethnic bias by a student-led white supremacist club” at the school and said it asked to meet with officials there.
The HRL letter reads, in part: “There is no denying it: [A] group of Pascack Valley’s own students have been publicly advocating white supremacy, in our hallways, at our sporting events, and on social media.”
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