Students at Amity High School in Woodbridge say the school system is underreacting to reports of anti-Semitism.
They spoke out at a board of education meeting Monday, saying that they don’t feel safe at the school.
Judy Alperin, the chief executive officer of the nearby JCC of Greater New Haven, was at the board meeting.
“I heard firsthand, the testimony of the kids who told really difficult and harrowing stories of feeling unsafe and feeling that they needed to hide their identity -- that they couldn’t be publicly Jewish,” Alperin said.
She said that non-Jewish students also spoke at the meeting about other kinds of discrimination happening at Amity, on the basis of race or sexual orientation.
James Connelly, the interim superintendent of Region 5, said the student reports of swastika graffiti and hate speech shocked him.
“I don’t think it was swept under the rug before,” Connelly said. “I just don’t think that people – most of us here in the district – realized how pervasive this had become. It’s really become a community cultural problem at this point.”
Connelly said that acts of hate will be investigated and won’t be tolerated. He said there already is an increased faculty presence in hallways, along with increased security in parking lots.
Across the nation, 1,749 people were victims of anti-religious hate crimes in 2017, according to statistics recently released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of those crimes, 58 percent were committed based on an anti-Jewish bias.