Herricks Board of Education President James Gounaris said Thursday night he was “sickened” by racially charged language that was spray painted multiple times at the Center Street Elementary School playground.
Gounaris said the district discovered Thursday morning that the playground area at the Williston Park school and some trees in the vicinity were graffitied overnight.
“The vandalism included profanatory and derogatory language including racist language, which was spray painted multiple times,” Gounaris said.
The president said the Nassau County Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into who is responsible for the incident.
“The safety and well-being of our students, families, faculties and staff is our priority and we will continue nurturing a school community that centers on empathy and compassion and denounces hate and injustice,” Gounaris said.
In a written statement, Gounaris implored district residents to have a conversation with their children at the dinner table on hate and its impact.
“If you’ve resided here for one day or 100 years, this is not what the community is about and we need to make sure that these people understand that it’s never going to be tolerated,” Gounaris said. “We are going to find out who they are and we are going to make sure they get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said in a statement she was heartbroken about the incident and that the town has worked hard to foster an inclusive community.
“These heinous acts will not be tolerated, and I am confident the Nassau County Police Department will do everything necessary to apprehend and prosecute those responsible,” DeSena said.
Herricks Superintendent Tony Sinanis said some of the graffiti has already been removed and that the rest of it will be removed before the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
In unrelated district news, Sinanis provided capital project updates from the summer, including side-by-side pictures of different parts of the district before and after their upgrades.
Summer projects include new epoxy floors, lights, furniture and repainting the tech room in the high school tech room and middle school art room, among others. The middle school gymnasium had its padding on the walls and floor redone.
The gymnasium in the community center had its walls and stage repainted alongside a new floor installed. Sinanis said the only remaining parts to be installed are chairs and carpets to run down the aisles.
Each elementary school in the district is getting its cafeterias redone including new floors and paintjob on the ceiling and walls.
High School projects include the ongoing renovation of the tennis courts, new furniture for certain classrooms, renovated bathrooms and a “zen den” relaxation area for students.
Following each board meeting, the district will be emailing board highlights and discussions to increase transparency. The email will be sent to parents, staff and anyone who requested to receive district communications.
The next Herricks Board of Education meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 7 and 7:30 p.m.