In a letter to Dr. Robert Pritchard, South Orangetown School District Superintendent, Federation responds to the use of swastika banners at Tappan Zee High School.
Dear Dr. Pritchard,
On Wednesday we were contacted by two parents in your district regarding the large swastika banners displayed in the Tappan Zee High School auditorium for the presentation of The Producers. It was communicated to us that you had the banners removed and we appreciate your taking the appropriate actions after parents complained directly to the district. However, the choice to use such large provocative banners and to have left them on display shows a lack of understanding about the impact these images can make in the wrong context. The outcry from both parents and students on social media that included intolerance and anti-Semitism shows that this needs to be addressed.
In our meeting together three weeks ago, we learned of your sincere concern for the welfare of all students in the district related to bias and intolerance. As community leaders, our shared concern is the safety of students. It is important that they have an understanding of what to do when they perceive bias or feel uncomfortable, like when finding large swastika banners draping their school’s auditorium. We know that some students waited to speak up about their concerns due to fear of reprisal. This incident creates an opportunity to open dialogue with not only the students but parents and teachers. The Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance and Education is prepared to facilitate this dialogue and turn a hurtful incident into a learning opportunity.
Federation’s Community Relations Council is always available to assist you in achieving a more inclusive and tolerant district. By opening dialogue about sensitive issues together we can take proactive steps to further strengthen the school environment and reflect the diverse character of the Rockland community.
With Best Regards,
Steve Gold, Chair, Community Relations Council
Andrea Weinberger, President
Gary Siepser, Chief Executive Officer