Oak Park High School, located near Agoura and Thousand Oaks, CA, will host a Holocaust survivorat a “stand-up assembly” as a result of anti-Semitic and racist tweets by six underclassmen.
According to Principal Kevin Buchanan, two of the perpetrators “are no longer at the school,” but Buchanan would not confirm whether they had been expelled. The other four will undergo after-school sensitivity training, having given their consent. The two no longer at the school have apparently said they may attend.
We responded swiftly and decisively and handed out discipline to all these students — including suspensions. All the students have apologized, agreed to attend sensitivity training on campus by the (Anti-Defamation League). We have a schoolwide assembly on May 28 with a Holocaust survivor … Hopefully, there are lessons to be learned from this, and students can learn and grow from this.”
Holocaust survivor and civil rights activist Judith Meisel has been asked by the Anti-Defamation League’s Tri-Counties office to educate the students at the assembly, said Cyndi Silverman, ADL regional director for the three counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. She added, “You’re going to have people that do things like that–that are going to be racist–but really the impetus is on the students to stand up and say no, this is unacceptable.”
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department may prosecute the offending parties if they made threats to a specific person, said Detective Tim Lohman.
Some examples of the offensive tweets:
Young Nazis move that gas.
Gassing is life #heil
The ch*** (ethnic slur used to refer to Asians) at the donut shop tried to rip me off.
The ADL reported that the tweets prompted roughly 300 retweets and more than 350 favorites. The Thousand Oaks Acorn newspaper reported that one post stated, “Hitler was a major disappointment. I was taught to finish what I start lol. He did not finish the job.”
The school administration was alerted to the tweets when they received an anonymous email which was also sent to many parents and community members last week. Some students stayed home from school because the tweets left them so upset. Parents were also upset: Buchanan said, “I wish this had been brought to my attention in a more appropriate manner. The suggestion we wouldn’t have dealt with this was really upsetting.”
But Silverman insisted the school dealt with the incident “quickly and effectively. It was a school where we were surprised to see something like this. For the most part, the school is a wonderful group of kids where they accept and embrace each other.”
The tweets were sent in April, around Hitler’s birthday. But there was an incident before that in which one of the male Tweeters had referred to a female Jewish student with an ethnic slur.
Senior Kyra Stevens, a peer counselor and a Safe School Ambassador, told students Friday, “We need to make a change to the way we joke about things �– the way we talk. We’re very loose in our speech.”