For a brief moment on Friday, May 7 there was a swastika painted on a rock in front of Orono High School.
In an email to all parents and staff on Monday, May 10, Orono superintendent Karen Orcutt said the district administration was made aware of a swastika being painted on the rock in front of the high school and the districts response to the incident.
“The rock was repainted within minutes of the incident,” Orcutt said in the email. “We took this news extremely seriously and took immediate action. We are deeply saddened by this event and the pain it is causing our students and staff.”
Orcutt continued, “I am writing to reiterate that Orono Schools unequivocally condemns any actions, words, images or symbols that convey hate and put the safety of our students, staff and community at risk. Our district mission and values are firmly grounded in our commitment to relationships and inclusion. Any actions that run counter to these goals will not be tolerated.”
In the email, the district said they will not share any further information that could lead to the identification of a student or students involved in this incident. The district will also not share information related to disciplinary action.
Lyssa Campbell, Orono director of communications, reitirated that statement on Monday, “At this time we do not have additional details to share and cannot identify the student by name nor the disciplinary action taken.”
Orcutt concluded the email by asking for unity, “I call on everyone to please join together. These difficult times call for community unity and support for all children of Orono Schools.”
At Monday’s school board meeting, chairperson Bob Tunheim read a statement about the incident.
“The board was made aware of a very shameful display of hate on our campus, a painting of a swastika on a rock at Orono High School,” Tunheim said. “I cant tell how sickened I am by that, we all are by this respenshble act. But know this, we are taking swift action involving our local police force and our own investigation to get to the bottom of this incident and offer our condemnation of it as a school board and school district. There is simply no place for hate and bigotry in our district and our community. Please know that we are doing what we can to combat hate and promote equity and inclusion.”