Reports Of Anti-Semitism At Middle School

By Rick Sallinger

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– An estimated 40-50 people showed up at the Jefferson County School Board meeting, claiming not enough has been done to respond to reports of Anti-Semitism at a district school.

Part of the group attends Faith Bible Church. They said they were upset at the lack of action by Jeffco Schools in regards to claims made regarding West Jefferson Middle School in Conifer.

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Sharon Evridge spoke for the group, “Three swastikas carved on a nice car, swastikas on notebooks all the time, flashing them in the hallway.”

This comes after our reports of a student who had a swastika drawn on his arms by others.

In February, an 8th grader complained to the school board. At the time she said, “I have to constantly deal with Anti-Semitism and ever since then that Hitler was a genius.”

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She has since left the school.

A teacher wrote a letter to the school principal last December about Anti-Semitism at the school, in which she said was directed at her.

The school district spokeswoman Diana Wilson spoke with CBS4 in February saying action was taken at the school.

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“They discuss tolerance, diversity, having a respectful environment for the entire student body,” said Wilson.

Parents were sent a letter and informed that Anti-Semitism remarks were made and appropriate discipline was imposed.

But these church members including Evridge, a longtime district teacher, claimed not enough has been done to stop Anti-Semitism activity at West Jeffco Middle School.

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“You have kids being shoved into a dark room that are Jewish and being told this is the gas chamber,” said Evridge during Thursday evening’s meeting.

The board could not respond to the comments at that time.

The district issued this statement to CBS4: “Jeffco Public Schools takes all reports of discrimination seriously. A safe, respectful school environment is our priority. There have been several investigations regarding anti-Semitism in mountain area schools. To date our investigations have found our schools are not only following our anti-discrimination policies, but also working with various community members and groups on proactive measures regarding respect, diversity, and awareness of behavior expectations. Three incidents regarding ethnic slurs were confirmed and the students involved faced repercussions. Several other reported incidents were not substantiated. The statements during public comment at yesterday evening’s Board of Education meeting are disturbing and disheartening, especially after our schools have put forth so much sincere effort. We are reviewing the statements made last night to see if there are any new allegations that need to be investigated, and we will continue to work on these issues. Again, Jeffco Public Schools – from the school staff to the district office to the Board of Education — are committed to a safe, respectful learning environment.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

Comments

One Comment

  1. The district spokesperson says, “There have been several investigations regarding anti-Semitism in mountain area schools. To date our investigations have found our schools are not only following our anti-discrimination policies, but also working with various community members and groups on proactive measures regarding respect, diversity, and awareness of behavior expectations.” She neglects to mention that these investigations have taken place over a number of years, not months or weeks, suggesting this problem is deeply embedded in the culture of those schools.

    And do the geniuses at Denver West have any idea how a group of teenagers who have been getting away with this behavior for years respond to another lecture “regarding respect, diversity, and awareness of behavior expectations?” Do they have any idea how clueless that sounds? And let’s not forget that these are the same district leaders who for years have refused to acknowledge, much less release data about the rising number of student suicides in Jeffco schools.

    Instead, when caught out, they are forced to acknowledge a problem but always say they have it under control, whether it is West Jeff Middle School, Westeridge Elementary School, Stevens Elementary School, or countless other schools where standard Jeffco procedure is to first try to intimidate parents into silence, then deny that any problems exist if those parents persist. Truly, the leadership of Jeffco schools makes Enron look like a bunch of angels.

  2. David Levine says:

    The community should rise up in anger and demand the firing of the teacher involved in comments to the eighth grade Jewish girl who recently read her statement before the board. The students involved should be suspended for a year and something put into their record describing their behavior. The morons on the board who take this lightly and issue platitudes or think the solution is lecturing these elementary and middle school haters should be replaced. Disgusting behavior all around but no one is more responsible than the supposed adults who apparently know nothing about history and probably care less. I hope the federal government takes appropriate action as local administrators seem incapable of responding appropriately.

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