Kent School District administrators are working with Kent Police, American-Islamic group leaders and impacted families in response to threatening anti-Muslim vandalism and slurs found on the Kent-Meridian High School campus last week.
According to a letter sent out by the school on Friday, a staff member reported graffiti in the girl’s bathroom on Tuesday, Oct. 24 that “threatened students of Muslim heritage.” Photos of the graffiti show threats that include “All Muslims dead on 10/30 #MAGA,” “towel heads at KM are gonna DIE” and a Nazi swastika sign, as well as other slurs.
The school district is working with Kent Police on the incident. Police added extra security at the school on Monday as classes resumed.
”Currently, there are no specific threats directed at individual students,” said Chris Loftis, school district spokesman. “However, we will implement extensive security measures (Monday) to help us maintain a safe campus. The safety and welfare of our students and staff are our highest priority at Kent-Meridian High School and in the Kent School District.
“We take seriously any threat of violence toward students or student groups and encourage our students to always report anything suspicious or that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe,” Loftis added. “The administration of Kent-Meridian will be working with student leaders, parents and community members to help make sure that all members of the school community feel safe, welcome and supported.”
The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Washington) said it is has been in touch with Kent-Meridian, the school district and with impacted community members, and plans to meet with school officials this week to ensure an appropriate response to the incident. The civil rights organization will take that opportunity to discuss how the school should approach such issues moving forward to ensure Muslim students and parents feel safe at school and encouraged to report discrimination, bullying and threats.
“This is not the first case reported to us of anti-Muslim vandalism at a school, college or university. The fear of being bullied at school has increased for Muslim students due to the negative effects of the presidential campaign and election,” said Jasmin Samy, a civil rights manager with CAIR-WA. “Our community must report any case of bullying, harassment or intimidation in schools so our learning environments can be a safe place for all students.”
Loftis added: “We are meeting later this week with representatives from the local Islamic community to discuss how we can work through this situation to answer concerns, abate fears and increase opportunities for growth in relationships.
“Kent-Meridian is proudly one of the most culturally diverse schools in the United States, and the Kent School District is one of the most culturally diverse and responsive school districts in the state and nation,” he said. “We welcome students and families from all faiths, ethnicities, nations, cultures and identities. We will not tolerate bigotry or discrimination in any form and will apply all resources necessary to keep our students safe and our schools welcoming and respectful for all.”