Update: We received a report Thursday night that a group of Madrona parents and students will greet incoming students at 9 a.m. Friday morning with signs “of inclusion and acceptance to counteract the negative and harmful words that were reported earlier this week.”
Edmonds police are investigating a case of malicious mischief at Madrona K-8 School in Edmonds, after a racial slur and profanity were found on a wall in the school bathroom Wednesday.
Some parents told My Edmonds News they were concerned that the graffiti — using the n-word and the fa-word — might constitute a hate crime, but Edmonds police spokesman Sgt. Shane Hawley said that the type of slurs found in the Madrona bathroom are defined as malicious mischief. When such graffiti is accompanied by a direct threat to a person or persons, it become malicious harassment according to state law, he added.
Parents were also upset that the school didn’t notify parents or police about the incident Wednesday, given the nature of the words used, and that the graffiti was removed immediately by district staff before police could look at it.
In a letter sent to Madrona families Thursday, Principal Lynda Fischer said that the school filed a police report Thursday “after consulting with District staff, and in response to parent request.” She also apologized that the school didn’t communicate immediately with parents about the incident.
“Regardless of the category of the offense,” Fischer wrote in her letter, “we take this action most seriously and have elevated adult presence and awareness of bathroom use, while devoting time to appropriate grade level discussions reaffirming our expectations for the right for all students to feel safe at school. At this time we do not know who did this act, but with raised awareness by students and staff we are working proactively to prevent it in the future.”
A group of Madrona parents and students will greet incoming students at 9 a.m. Friday morning with signs “of inclusion and acceptance” to counteract the negative and harmful words that were reported earlier this week,” said parent Carrie Biggs.
Here is the complete text of Fischer’s letter:
Dear Madrona Families –
I am providing a follow-up message to our community in order to provide clarity and additional information regarding the staff member finding two hateful words written in a bathroom at our school. I am very appreciative of the many families who have emailed, called and reached out to us and District staff with their concerns and questions. The first point of clarification is that the two hateful words were found written in one bathroom.
While we have had several instances of bathroom graffiti in recent weeks, only one instance has occurred involving the use of derogatory words. However, even one instance is too many and it will not be tolerated. We instructed staff to speak with students Wednesday in an effort to identify the individual responsible. We understand that students shared with their parents that these conversation occurred and we apologize that our initial communication to you did not occur until Thursday morning. We had directed staff to have a conversation with students about: 1) our expectations for respect in general and specifically in the bathroom, 2) our no tolerance for disrespect in language or deeds, and 3) our reinforcement that students who see inappropriate words, images or actions report immediately to an adult. Madrona students regularly report misbehavior and so this is not new messaging. We were prepared for the possibility that student(s) would come forward with information during the day yesterday, but they did not. The teacher who reported the words indicated that due to the time of day, he doesn’t think any students actually saw the graffiti. It would have been ideal to send out a late in the day communication to parents, however we were addressing another difficult situation that unfortunately had also occurred and regret it prevented us from reaching out to you sooner so you had accurate information.
After consulting with District staff, and in response to parent request, we did file a report with the Edmonds Police Department today. The attending detective took the report but did indicate that it did not meet the qualifications for malicious harassment, but was rather considered malicious mischief. Regardless of the category of the offense, we take this action most seriously and have elevated adult presence and awareness of bathroom use, while devoting time to appropriate grade level discussions reaffirming our expectations for the right for all students to feel safe at school. At this time we do not know who did this act, but with raised awareness by students and staff we are working proactively to prevent it in the future.
These are difficult times, and our children have heard and seen things in the media and elsewhere that are not in keeping with the philosophy of this school. We will continue to do the day-to-day work of promoting not only the academic growth of our students, but their social/emotional and character development as well. I hope you will continue to reinforce this work with your child(ren) at home in partnership with our work here at school.