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HCPSS Board Chair and Superintendent Respond to Hateful Incident

January 16th, 2019

Howard County Public School System Board of Education Chair Mavis Ellis and Superintendent Michael J. Martirano today issued the following statement regarding a recent incident at Howard High School:

We want to address an incident that occurred at Howard High School on Monday. A swastika and male genitalia were created in the snow on the field hockey field. This field is visible to cars driving by on Route 108, and was seen by students and staff arriving to school Tuesday morning. We commend principal Nick Novak and his team on acting quickly to remove the offensive symbols and working with the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) to identify the student involved. While this may not officially be considered a crime, we strongly condemn this act of hate and will hold the responsible person accountable to the extent permitted by our discipline policy.

The actions of a single student unfairly distracts from the work we are doing in our schools and offices to establish inclusive learning environments and build a restorative culture. While we will continue to work with the student who committed these acts in a restorative approach and leverage their actions to become learning opportunities, we cannot stress enough the importance of families talking to their children about the impact of hate symbols and speech. We ask all Howard County families to engage your children in conversations about acceptance of all people and the impact their words and actions can have. Just like we do in our schools, please engage our young people about the importance of practicing civility and being mindful of the impact their actions have on others.

An act like the one at Howard was easily erased by sweeping the snow. However, the impact it had on others cannot be so easily swept away. We are seeing a disturbing trend in Howard County, and across the country, of messages and actions being instigated on various groups of people for no other reason than hate or ignorance of the impact it may have. These acts are not a “prank” or “joke” and HCPSS will continue to work closely with HCPD to hold those who commit these acts responsible to the full extent permitted by law and system policy.

Thank you for your continued partnership in making our schools and community a place where everyone feels safe, welcome and included.


Mavis Ellis, Chair, Board of Education

Mavis Ellis signature.

Michael J. Martirano, Superintendent

Michael J. Martirano signature.