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Message from the Superintendent: In Response to National and Global Acts of Antisemitism

December 8th, 2022

The following message was sent by the Superintendent to families and staff.

I have been made aware by members of our local Jewish community and HCPSS staff of their fears related to ongoing acts of antisemitism both nationally and locally. I want all students, families, staff and community members to know that the Howard County Public School System embraces all individuals no matter their religion, race, sexual orientation or any other characteristics that make us both unique and part of wonderfully diverse communities within the larger Howard County community.

The most recent Audit of Antisemitic Incidents by the Anti-Defamation League shows an increase in antisemitic incidents both nationally and in the state of Maryland from 2020 to 2021. Last year, our state experienced 55 such acts. Though the data has not yet been released for 2022, it is my hope that these numbers will decrease.

Unfortunately, the insensitive and inexplicable remarks of many influential and identifiable people in our society—and particularly on social media—amplify the types of dangerous rhetoric that we work so hard to eliminate in our county. I encourage families to continue to monitor the social media activity of your children to be sure that they are not being subjected to some of the hateful and dangerous perspectives that exist online.

As issues arise locally, nationally or worldwide that are discussed in our schools and classrooms, it is important to acknowledge to the full community that both hate and fear exist in our world and amplify the fact that our schools and classrooms should be safe harbors for all children. I will continually encourage everybody in our community to stand against those negative influencers and embody and model positivity and inclusivity through our actions. Our ability as a community to stand against hate and in kindness and friendship with our neighbors is our Howard County community’s greatest strength.

If a student or staff member experiences or witnesses any act of hate or bullying in our school communities, I encourage you to report it immediately. Students, staff and family members can easily and confidentially report incidents of bullying on the HCPSS Stop Bullying website. Counselors and school staff are prepared to support any students who need someone to talk to.

Together, we can continue to demonstrate to the rest of the state, nation and world the ways that Howard County truly creates and embraces community.

Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.