Dear Syosset School Community,
Early this morning, a school security officer discovered that Syosset high school and South Woods middle school had been extensively vandalized with graffiti. Some of the graffiti was rude, crude and vulgar. But even more disturbingly, some of it was homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic.
We immediately contacted law enforcement and are cooperating with their active investigation. Earlier this afternoon, they released a public statement, freeing us to make this statement of our own.
In addition to the police investigation, we are conducting our own internal investigation. We take all incidents seriously, but hate speech is especially pernicious. It tears at the very fabric of a community – its unity; and at the heart of our families – their identity.
In my commencement address to the Class of 2017 not 2 months ago, I hailed Syosset’s wonderful diversity, and applauded the very tangible steps that the school board, the graduates, and this community have taken to ensure our diversity is both acknowledged and celebrated.
One need look no further than the nightly news to see that our nation’s broader commitment to tolerance is being tested. But I am convinced that Syosset’s dedication to diversity is not superficial. It was not created overnight, and it will not be easily undone by the overnight actions of a few.
Nevertheless, let me make clear that hatred, bias, or intolerance of any kind have no place in our schools. Quite the opposite, every student – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or religion – is entitled to attend a school that is warm, welcoming and safe. The Syosset school district will pursue our investigation of this incident doggedly, and we will deal with any future incidents aggressively. In addition, we are reviewing every aspect of our internal operations to prevent something like this from happening again.
Dr. Tom Rogers