GMHS Graffiti Update from Principal Dan Richards

Good evening! I am writing to update you on the status of the investigation that is being done regarding the recent graffiti that was found in the first floor boy’s bathroom at the Middle High School on Tuesday, February 26, 2019.  I have been following the investigation very closely and feel confident that the administration, under Principal Richard’s leadership, has conducted a thorough investigation and unfortunately it is an on-going investigation as the results were not able to identify the person or persons who are responsible for defacing school property with messages of disrespect and hate, whether that was their intention or not.   As you will see from the letter Principal Richards sent out today, the school is engaging the student body in trying to raise awareness and send the message that unwarranted and unwelcome acts like this have a negative effect on the school culture and have no place in our schools.   The power of students to change their world is untapped and we believe that the answer lies with the students.  One of the most important things Mr. Richards includes in his message is the statement that the actions of a couple of individuals will not overshadow and represent the commitment of the vast majority of people to inclusive schools.  I am confident that this is the case and together our voices will clearly reinforce that “we are better than this”.  We have the opportunity to learn from this experience and it is important to promote the importance of being an upstander and not a bystander.  One of the most challenging aspects of this situation for me is that these offensive messages were on the bathroom wall for some time and were not reported. I know it is hard to come forward and easier not to become involved, but we want our young people to realize that they have to be the change they want to see in this world and going to school every day in a place where everyone is welcome, valued for who they are and what they believe and safe physically , emotionally and socially must continue to be our goal. Our collective efforts will continue and we will never accept anything less than the best we can be as a community.  Here is the letter from Mr. Richards.
Dear Parents, Guardians, Faculty, Staff, and Students-

I am writing to give you an update on the graffiti incident at Georgetown Middle/High School from earlier this week.
Over the past couple of days, assistant principals Ms. Lysen and Mr. Prescott, in partnership with Georgetown Police Department, have been investigating the graffiti found in the first floor boys bathroom. They have been inspecting all bathrooms, locker rooms, reviewing camera footage, looking at handwriting samples, and interviewing teachers and students. I would like to give you an update of their findings:
* Two offensive sentences were written in pencil on a tile in the boys bathroom on the first floor.
* It was determined the two sets of written words were related to rap songs. One was the actual lyrics and one was from an online forum designed to talk about a rapper. Both rappers are recently deceased and were young rivals. The words appear to be tributes to the rappers.
* A swastika was scratched into a private stall partition in the same boys bathroom.
* It is unclear when the swastika was created, but it is believed to be before the writing on the bathroom tile was discovered. This appears to be a separate incident.
The investigation into the two incidents is ongoing. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the GMHS school administration or Laura Britton, school resource officer.
To ensure all locations are free of graffiti, all boys and girls bathrooms and locker rooms have been inspected. Graffiti of any kind has been removed and painted over. This now allows the school administration and police to establish a timeline if any graffiti were to surface in the future.
In the meantime, I have met with Ms. Daly, School Adjustment Counselor, and Cassie Murray, Special Edu. Teacher,  who were recently trained by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on how to establish a community that is inclusive for all and to address offensive and discrimatory situations. In our meeting, we agreed involving student voice and action, short-term and long-term, would have the greatest impact on our school culture and community as a whole. Ms. Daly and Ms. Murray will be working with their trained team of students to brainstorm on how best to create a heightened awareness around inclusivity at GMHS. Teachers and students from other clubs have expressed an interest in joining the team.
The graffiti incidents are in no way a representation of the Georgetown Public Schools’ core values and beliefs. We remain committed to embracing all faculty, staff, and students and are steadfast in creating an environment where everyone feels safe and supportive to express themselves. Individuals who engage in acts that do not support an inclusive culture are quickly addressed in the appropriate manner. 
I continue to be proud of faculty, staff and students at Georgetown Middle/High School and will not let the careless act of one or few individuals represent the many great people who support an inclusive culture. Together, the majority’s voice has and will continue to prevail and support our strong foundational belief that Georgetown Middle/High School embraces everyone regardless of their differences. 
Thank you for your support and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions.
Sincerely,
Mr. Dan Richards