A Georgia school board is investigating after anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas and the words “Heil Hitler,” were found scrawled on a bathroom wall at Pope High School in suburban Atlanta during the High Holy Days.
A spokesperson for the Cobb County District told CNN that the graffiti was “unacceptable.”
"The principal has engaged with community groups who have been affected by this student behavior, and all applicable district policy and law will be applied," the spokesperson said.
Rabbi Larry Sernovitz of East Cobb’s Temple Kol Emeth said that he and six other local rabbis were working to combat a recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
"Students and parents were rightfully scared and concerned about what was happening," he told CNN. "There were many families and students who reached out with stories similar, not just at Pope High School but throughout the district."
The incident is being investigated by the school board, with the principal of Pope High School ordering a full investigation. So far, Cobb County police are not involved.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has criticized the school’s response to the incident, noting that the school sent a letter to parents that failed to characterize the graffiti as anti-Semitic.
“As hate crimes surge in Georgia and across the country, it’s unacceptable that Cobb County Schools is failing to address or even name anti-Semitic incidents occurring in their own schools, and refusing to engage with ADL to respond effectively,” the ADL said.
Photos of the anti-Semitic graffiti and other campus vandalism were posted to social media as part of a trend where students vandalize and steal school property and post photos on TikTok, East Cobb News reported.
The principal of Pope High School, Thomas Flugum, told Sernovitz that several suspects had been identified from the student body, and that they were continuing to conduct interviews.
“As parents, we can't begin to understand what, how, why any of this would happen at our school, seemingly all in one day, but we can use this as an opportunity to teach our children,” wrote the Pope High School Parent Teacher Student Association in a Facebook post. “Many will call these teenage pranks, but these are hate crimes – and destroying property and stealing from your school is a felony.”
They added: “We stand together with all of our families and will not tolerate or accept hate. We can do better and will. Together.”