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Cherry Creek Schools superintendent addresses antisemitism at Campus Middle School

Cherry Creek Schools superintendent addresses antisemitism at Campus Middle School
Cherry Creek Schools superintendent addresses antisemitism at Campus Middle School 02:16

The Cherry Creek School District is taking action against recent antisemitic acts at one school in particular. 

Ido Shalev is a student at Campus Middle School in Greenwood Village where he saw a student with a swastika on his arm. 


"This kid decided it would be funny to draw swastikas on some of the fellows," Shalev said.

The incident happened after students had been watching a movie about the Holocaust in which millions of Jews were killed during World War II. 

Cherry Creek High School parent Rikki Mor heard about the incident and gathered nearly 300 signatures in a letter to the district superintendent to address multiple antisemitic acts. 

Mor told CBS News Colorado, "Our kids are scared to go to school and our kids don't want to tell anybody that they are Jewish."

At Campus Middle School, Principal Lissa Staal sent out a letter to families stating in part, "When these events are reported to the administration, we address them immediately, and those involved face disciplinary consequences."

The Cherry Creek School Board heard even more complaints about antisemitism involving students at its most recent meeting. A girl from Campus Middle School addressed the board about a male student she encountered, "He opened his mouth, and said, 'You should go back to the death chambers too.' I just stood up and left."

The school has just had a "No Place for Hate" week. 

Ido Shalev says he is glad that he spoke up about antisemitism at school, "I think they all are working to find the correct solution to this."

Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Christopher Smith also addressed the school board with the following comments, "It saddens me, and disappoints me, and frustrates me, that my comments tonight are around hate.

"I want to address recent events at Campus Middle School following the Holocaust presentation on April 28. We learned of students drew antisemitic symbols, and swastikas on other students. Administrators investigated the incident and took immediate action. Multiple students are facing disciplinary action and any other students found to be involved will also face disciplinary consequences. We do not tolerate hate in this district of any kind against any group. 

"I want to share tonight, that I am not naive to think that this only happens at Campus. 

"I know that students are micro-aggressed across this district. When I became superintendent I had the opportunity to meet with constituents and ask a question: What would it look like if your child is thriving in the Cherry Creek School District? What came back to me was a growth mindset. Believe in my child. Equity. Every student's journey is different. Whole wellbeing. See my child as they are as a person, not just as academics. Engagement. Understand that kids learn differently now and we need to engage our community differently. And finally, and most importantly, relationships. I will tell you that at these board meetings, I have grounded our staff in these core values. I have had individuals come to this microphone and tell me that I have lost sight of instruction. I have not lost sight of instruction. If our students don't come whole to school, they will not learn period. 

"So when I hear of these things happening in our schools, it frustrates me and as we strive for excellence, I know we are not perfect, but we need to continue to be better. So I thank the community for being here tonight. I want to thank Lissa Staal, the principal of Campus for making it a learning opportunity not just a consequence. 

"I would like to thank the parents who showed up at my office today, to help me get better. To be better as a leader in this district because I am the leader in this district. I believe in this district, but we can always grow and be better. I appreciate the opportunity to lean into the community and engage in different ways so we can find different ways to help teach because it is about learning. It is about being better and that is what we are committed to do. And we won't tolerate those who don't have those same core values. 

"I will continue to push into equity, no matter how many people come to this board meeting and tell me to stop. I believe in our kids, and I am thankful for this board of education that allows me to do what we do and allows my district team to do what they do. We are committed to being better. 

"Also, I received comments from the lived experiences of our students here tonight. I want to say, as the leader of this district, I'm sorry. I am absolutely sorry, that these are the things that are happening to you in this district. As I just stated, I am committed to making us better. But I ask that it would be a partnership, that we work together because here is what I also know. I look at how divided our society is right now, and schools can't do it by themselves.

"Our students are bombarded by hate and violence and honestly sometimes scared to come school because of that. Then you layer on top of that intolerance, it becomes very difficult. So I ask you to team with us, and I ask you to partner so that our students can be safe and again I'd like to say thank you for being here this evening."

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