North York school investigating after students performed Nazi salute in front of classmates
Students at Charles H. Best Middle School also 'depicted' swastika, principal says
A North York middle school says it is investigating after two students "depicted" swastikas and performed a Nazi salute in front of classmates last week.
In a letter sent home to parents, Charles H. Best Middle School principal Elever Baker called the incident, which happened last Tuesday, "upsetting and unacceptable.
"We take great pride in our school as a welcoming, safe, and inclusive place and this has always been our message to students," Baker said. "It is also not reflective of who we are and what we stand for as a school and as a community."
The incident happened last Tuesday before classes started at the school near Dufferin Street and Finch avenue, according to the letter.
Baker said an investigation remains ongoing, and the school is taking immediate steps to address the issue.
"We are committed to the work of intentionally identifying, interrupting, and addressing racism and discrimination in our school, with a focus on antisemitism," the letter states.
The principal insisted that the incident does not reflect what the school community stands for.
"On behalf of Charles H. Best Middle School, we acknowledge and regret the harm this incident caused to members of our school community and to our shared school climate," Baker said.
The school says staff members are consulting with Toronto District School Board equity advisers to establish new strategies and tools for addressing antisemitism.
Shari Schwartz-Maltz, a spokesperson for the TDSB and chair of the board's Jewish Heritage Committee said the students who displayed the swastika didn't know what it meant.
"This was a symbol to them. This is a symbol they see on TV, they've seen unfurled on flags at demonstrations, they see it online. It becomes normalized and they don't know what it really means, and what it means is a symbol of hate," she said in a release Tuesday.
In a statement on Twitter, Mayor John Tory said he was "very saddened" to hear about the antisemitic incident.
"This incident demonstrates how much work we still have in front of us to inform and educate as part of our effort to eradicate antisemitism in all of its forms," he said.