School district punishes teachers for discussing anti-Semitism with students after swastika vandalism
Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidency last November, a student at Stoughton High School in Massachusetts used tape to create a swastika on his school’s walls. When another student confronted the person who drew the hateful symbol, the instigator responded that he’d burn the swastika “the way they burned the Jews.”
In response, senior English teacher Stella Martin discussed anti-Semitism with her students — only to be reprimanded by the school district’s superintendent after the parents of the boy who put the swastika on the wall complained that he was being “bullied,” Brockton, Massachusetts’ The Enterprise reported.
Martin’s reprimand caught the attention of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a Jewish civil rights group that argued the teacher’s First Amendment free speech protections had been violated. They also claimed Martin’s reprimand and that of two other teachers who spoke to students about the incident could have a “chilling effect.”
According to The Enterprise, “one teacher was suspended without pay for talking to one student and some of her colleagues about the incidents, and for rescinding a college letter of recommendation for the student who made the swastika and telling the school why in vague terms.”