Photo allegedly of three Schreiber High School students doing Nazi salute spurs outcry

Photo allegedly of three Schreiber High School students doing Nazi salute spurs outcry
A photo allegedly shows three Paul D. Schreiber High School students doing the Nazi salute, with one wearing a gas mask and another holding a shovel. The students' faces were blurred by nonprofit StopAntisemitism to protect the identity of the minors. (Photo courtesy of StopAntisemitism)

A photo allegedly of three Paul D. Schreiber students doing the Nazi salute began circulating social media this weekend, stirring outcries from the global Jewish community and spurring the school district to implement expanded educational programs.

“We are fully aware of how disturbing this image is and the anxiety it brings to our community, particularly given the recent terrorist attacks in Israel and the resultant war,” the Port Washington School District said in a statement.

The image, which includes one student wearing a gas mask and another holding a shovel, received global attention when it was posted by the nonprofit organization StopAntisemitism on its Instagram story over the weekend.

“It’s especially sad when antisemitism poisons the minds of children,” StopAntisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez said in a statement to Blank Slate. “These three students used one of history’s greatest tragedies to intimidate and threaten, joining forces with bigots around the world who look for any excuse to target Jews. Their actions must have consequences.”

The nonprofit shared the image with Blank Slate Media, which they said was provided to them by a Schreiber High School parent. They said they blurred the faces of the two teens whose faces were not concealed already to protect the identity of the minors.

The circulation of the image came a week after the Port Washington Police Department released a statement that they were investigating an incident of bias perpetuated by five 14-year-old students at the high school. The Port Washington School District said the incident of bias concerned racism, antisemitism and bullying.

The Port Washington Police Department said the incident did not pose a threat to the community and there appeared to be no criminality related to the incident.

The district said Superintendent Michael Hynes, Paul D. Schreiber Principal Dr. Kathryn Behr and local law enforcement have been investigating the photo, as well as information and rumors relating to the incident.

“This matter is being taken with the utmost of seriousness, and all responsible parties are being disciplined in accordance with applicable state law,” the district said.

They said they will continue to work with local law enforcement and district security personnel to protect students and staff in the aftermath of the incident.

The district released a joint statement Monday morning signed by Superintendent Hynes and Board of Education President Adam Smith on behalf of the entire board to address the incident and share updates on how they are going forward in the aftermath.

“The intent of this letter is to do our best to address the events directly, to ensure that the over 6,000 students and staff who attend our schools and cultural and athletic events outside of school feel safe everyday and continue to enjoy all of the opportunities that our schools and Port Washington have to offer,” the district said.

The district said they are unable to share information about the specific facts and discipline of individual students, under state and federal law. Because of this, they said there has been misinformation circulating in the community and are updating the community to the extent that they can.

“While we recognize that it may never seem like enough, we will continue to be as transparent as possible,” the district said.

In response to learning about the student bias, the district said they have worked with the Port Washington Police Department, are investigating all threats and rumors, partnered with local rabbis, cantors and the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County to work on student education, provided counseling services for students and have spoken with concerned community members.

The district said its efforts in combatting bias within its schools will not conclude when the incident has been fully addressed, with planned efforts to educate students in the future “that will create a connection and build a stronger understanding that hate and acts that resemble hate have no place in our schools or our community.”

Going forward, the district said they will be working with local clergy and the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County to expand its educational programs and conversations about the Holocaust, antisemitism and digital citizenship, assessing the schools’ executions of the state’s requirement for Holocaust education and implementing anti-bias education led by the Anti-Defamation League for all 4th and 5th-grade students.

“We will continue to enhance these efforts not because of an incident but because it is a necessary component of our Vision, Mission and Portrait of a Graduate,” the district said. “The road ahead still has a lot of work and a lot of healing. We are only strong and able to make change if we work in support and not in opposition of one another.”

The district will be hosting Unity Day at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday on the field of Schreiber High School, which they have invited the community to join. The district said this will “begin to forge this path forward and continue to build a stronger understanding that hate and acts of hate have no place here in Port Washington.”

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