Handling Biases In Our Schools


    A recent incident at Schreiber sparked conversations to educate students on inclusivity and acceptance

    On Thursday, Oct. 5, the Port Washington Police District received a report of a suspected bias incident involving five 14-year-old Paul D. Schreiber High School Students.

    An anonymous report on Schreiber High School’s Report It School Safety Hotline made the school district aware of five students making anti-semitic and racist remarks.

    Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael J. Hynes, said, “We were alerted via email, and then our administrators at Schreiber started looking into what the incident entails.”

    The administration’s evaluation of the anonymous report discovered “some comments and one image in particular that is incredibly distressing,” said Dr. Hynes.

    The incident was reported to the Port Washington Police Department, and they immediately conducted an investigation with the full cooperation of the Port Washington School District.
    According to a press release from the police district, “At this time, there does not appear to be any criminality involved, and we want to assure our residents that there is no threat to the school or community at large. We continue to work closely with the school as they will be following up with appropriate internal measures.”

    Dr. Hynes shared that the five students “received significant consequences.”

    “You have these young boys who know what they’re doing is inappropriate, but they think it’s funny, and it’s not. So they take a picture of it, thinking it would never get out, but of course it does,” said Dr. Hynes. “I don’t think they understood how this would land on people and impact people in such a negative way. Especially with what’s happening in Israel right now, you have people who are scared and truly upset.”

    Staff, parents and students were informed of this disturbing situation through several correspondence letters from Dr. Hynes and the school administration. In response to the bias incident, Dr. Hynes met with representatives from local synagogues to discuss partnering on education.

    “I met with representatives in Port from our local synagogues, and we had a very positive and constructive conversation as far as what we can do and partner with each other to educate our community, our students and our families,” said Dr. Hynes. “And we plan to meet again in early December to continue the conversation.”

    The Port Washington School District doesn’t stand for hate speech and intolerance within its community. The bias incident was immediately handled and remains a top priority.
    “As a school district, we take this very seriously. It is priority one right now,” said Dr. Hynes. “We will continue to make sure our students are educated regarding any hate speech and/or any symbols of hate. And if this ever happens again, we will be swift as far as correcting and educating our kids and making sure there are consequences.”

    The School’s Response To “Global Jihad”

    In addition to handling the bias incident, the Port Washington School District and many other schools across the country were made aware of social media posts circulating about a “Global Jihad.”

    On Friday, Oct. 13, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder notified school officials of a widely circulating national social media post calling for a “Global Jihad.” The rhetoric comes in response to former Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal calling for protests across the Muslim world on Oct. 13 in support of Palestinians. His comments were quickly misconstrued online and became a “Global Jihad” across social media.

    In response to the concern stemming from social media posts, the Nassau County Police Department looked into the comments and issued the following statement to school districts and municipalities: “While we are not currently aware of any planned activities in Nassau County, we will continue to remain vigilant.”

    The Port Washington Schools leadership team worked to gather information from the Nassau County Police Department, Port Washington Police Department, Sands Point Police Department, and Homeland Security officials to ensure the safety of our school community.
    According to a letter to the Port Washington Community, “out of an abundance of caution, [The Port Washington School District] will have increased police presence and security staffing at our school buildings tomorrow.”

    On Friday, Oct. 13, Dr. Hynes told the Port Washington News, “I think the police presence [at the schools in Port Washington] helped a lot. I think it made people feel calm. The police were incredibly visible. And we had such a close partnership with them that I think from a parent perspective, certainly from my perspective and even our staff members, they really appreciated it.”

    In the letter to the Port Washington Community, Dr. Hynes assured readers that the school’s “main objective remains the safety and well-being of our entire school community. Our mental health teams are prepared to continue supporting students, parents and staff who are directly impacted by the horrific events or are having difficulty processing what is taking place. Please do not hesitate to contact the psychologists, social workers, and counselors in our schools should you need to seek guidance and support.”

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    Julie Prisco is the editor of the Port Washington News. She graduated from SUNY Albany in the Spring of 2021 with a degree in English and Journalism. PHONE: 516-403-5155 EMAIL:jprisco@antonmediagroup.com


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